Morgan Stanley veterans launch firm using Raymond James platform

Newly formed Steward Partners offers equity ownership and succession planning to advisers who join

Nov 4, 2013 @ 1:16 pm

By Joyce Hanson

A group of veteran Morgan Stanley managers has broken away from the wirehouse to form a partnership with Raymond James Financial Services Inc. as an equity-ownership wealth advisory firm that will offer succession planning to advisers.

The new partnership, Steward Partners Global Advisory, was co-founded by chief executive Michael Maurer, a former Morgan Stanley managing director who previously worked at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and president James Gold, most recently an executive director at Morgan Stanley who previously was employed by Citigroup Global Markets Inc.

Although the founders are seeking advisers of all ages, a key part of their model involves riding the baby boomer brokerage retirement wave. The goal is to help advisers in their 50s and 60s develop a succession plan that will keep their client base intact.

Steward's founders hope to become succession-planning thought leaders, and they are currently limiting equity partners to 50 to 60 advisers in the Northeast, from Washington to Boston.

(Don't miss a look at why many advisers skip succession planning.)

“We don't want this to be a massive firm. We don't want it to be owned by private equity,” Mr. Maurer said.

Also joining Steward, headquartered in Washington, D.C., are founding partners Ross Wilkinson, global head of field management, and Theodore Schwab, managing director. Mr. Wilkinson was previously with Mid Atlantic Capital Corp. and Morgan Stanley. Mr. Schwab was previously with Morgan Stanley and Citigroup Global Markets.

Steward Partners' package for advisers includes:

• An equity ownership stake in Steward Partners and eligibility in a profit-sharing program.

• The option to serve “of counsel” to a team of advisers who've taken over the adviser's book of business.

• The ability to sell their equity stake or receive dividends for up to seven years after retirement.

• 100% medical coverage up to seven years after retirement.The strategic partnership with Raymond James offers Steward wirehouse-level resources such as a platform that includes alternative investments, equity research, and trust and estate planning, according to Mr. Maurer.

“Steward's model is different. Neither Mike nor Jim have clients; they are [complex] managers,” said Scott Curtis, president of Raymond James Financial Services. “Many advisers long for a smaller environment when everybody knew you by name and your manager helped you as a coach with growth and a business plan. They feel that in the big wirehouse firm model, a lot of that has been lost.”

Why clients come first even when it comes to succession planning

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