Morgan Stanley may be crowing right now about grabbing a top-producing advisory team from Merrill Lynch, but in context, both firms have only been hurting themselves.
Losing Harvey Kadden and team to Morgan Stanley cost Merrill Lynch dear: they lost advisors with a track record for running $1 billion in AUM and plenty of prestige
But with Morgan itself still nursing the defection of a $2 billion team from the old Smith Barney days, both wirehouses are still down a net $1 billion apiece.
And if either firm is recouping any money from broken retention contracts, it's likely that recruiting costs will cancel it out.
We know that Morgan wants to shrink its advisory pool, especially where survivors from Smith Barney are concerned. They're forcing advisors who produce under $300,000 a year to join bigger teams or see their payout drop as low as 20% -- and of course they can always just leave the company.
At Merrill, now that Sallie Krawcheck is gone and Bank of America is facing deep layoffs, the mood cannot be great.
Another year of retention incentives expires in a few months. How many more big and little advisors will we see on the move as these firms cannibalize each other for talent?