Greg Fleming, Rockefeller Capital spending big on recruits

Firm is offering advisers upwards of three times prior year's revenue to move

May 21, 2019 @ 3:05 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Greg Fleming's Rockefeller Capital Management is making a splash in the market to recruit veteran wirehouse financial advisers, offering lucrative recruiting deals that could equal three times or more of advisers' annual production.

Industry executives and recruiters said the private wealth management arm of Rockefeller Capital is offering 300% signing bonuses, and in certain cases more, of advisers' prior 12 months' revenue, known as the trailing 12 in industry parlance.

"What I'm hearing from advisers is that the Rockefeller deal is as competitive as the biggest deals anywhere else," said Casey Knight, executive vice president and managing director at ESP Financial Search, a recruiting firm.

"And it's probably going to exceed 300% for the kind of advisers they are looking for, typically from a wirehouse and typically large teams, with a minimum of $3 million to $4 million in [annual] production."

The bonuses are structured as forgivable loans that run as long as 12 years, sources said, which is up to three years longer than typical recruiting packages. Extending the length of time of the loans could likely act as a way to tie advisers to Rockefeller, executives and recruiters said.

Formerly the president of Morgan Stanley wealth and asset management and president of Merrill Lynch, Mr. Fleming is president and CEO of Rockefeller Capital, which was created last year after hedge fund Viking Global Investors bought a majority stake in Rockefeller & Co. Minority ownership is shared by the management team and the Rockefeller family.

Last March, when its acquisition was completed, the company said that the new ownership group anticipated "making substantial additional capital investments" to execute its strategy and speed up growth.

A spokeswoman for Rockefeller Capital, Erin Clark, declined to comment when asked about the recruiting package.

According to industry executives and recruiters, Rockefeller Capital's recruiting deal is designed to be flexible and focus on the growth of advisers' practices. In other words, the deal comes with targets. The more the team of advisers increases its revenues over a prescribed period, the larger the potential bonus.

Rockefeller is getting results. Seven wealth management teams have joined since September, and on Monday the company said it hired two veteran UBS advisers in San Francisco — Bruce Tenenbaum and Andy Lam. The company did not state the amount of assets those two advisers manage.

Mr. Fleming's aggressive recruiting efforts comes at a time when the large wirehouses are pulling back from recruiting. Two, Morgan Stanley and UBS, pulled out of the broker protocol agreement in late 2017, which makes it easier for advisers to leave one employer for another.

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