March 15 (Reuters) - UBS AG's Wealth Management Americas has landed two veteran adviser teams that together managed more than $2.4 billion in client assets at rival brokerage Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
The two teams, formerly based out of Morgan Stanley's Aventura, Florida office, are the latest major departures from the largest U.S. brokerage, which last year lost several top adviser teams to rivals in the wake of frustrations with the firm's technology platform and cultural differences with senior management.
Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the departures.
The defections also weigh on the firm's Aventura office in particular, which lost three veteran advisers who managed $423 million in client assets to UBS in November. That brings total losses from the branch to nearly $3 billion in client assets managed by seven departing advisers in just five months.
"Anytime there is an exodus like that, it often times creates momentum and simultaneous fear of being the last one to turn off the lights," said California-based financial services recruiter Ron Edde of Millennium Career Advisors of the defections.
The advisers who moved include Allan Yarkin and Hank Boyce of the Florida Corporate Services Group at Morgan Stanley. Yarkin and his team managed roughly $1.75 billion in client assets, according to a 2012 Barron's ranking.
Yarkin, who has worked in the advising industry for more than three decades, was a managing director and family wealth director at Morgan Stanley. He was named to the firm's Director's Council, a group of the top 5 percent of advisers at the firm, which includes many top-ranking Morgan Stanley managing directors.
Boyce, who has also been an adviser for more than three decades, was a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley. He and Yarkin moved to UBS on Feb. 27, according to regulatory filings.
Also on the move, advisers Seth Ripple and Leonard Suskind joined UBS's Aventura office from Morgan Stanley, where they managed $679 million in client assets, according to the Barron's 2012 ranking.
Calls to the UBS office in Aventura confirmed that all four had joined.
Suskind, who was a senior vice president at Morgan Stanley, had been with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and its predecessor firms for three decades. Ripple was a first vice president and has been with his old firm for two decades.
Suskind and Ripple also moved to UBS on Feb. 27.
Since Jan. 1, Morgan Stanley has lost at least 45 veteran advisers who managed more than $7.2 billion in client assets, based on moves tracked by Reuters. In 2012, they lost at least 243 advisers who managed nearly $40 billion in client assets. Reuters tracks the moves of individual advisers or teams that manage around $100 million or more in client assets, which typically translates to $1 million or more in annual revenue production.
By that same count, Morgan Stanley has added at least 19 advisers who managed $2.3 billion in client assets - roughly a third of the assets it lost. UBS has lost at least 12 veteran advisers who managed roughly $1.4 billion in client assets at the firm, but gained at least 16 advisers who managed about $4.4 billion in client assets.
The defection of veteran teams, like Yarkin's, can be particularly big losses for brokerages, which rely on their client assets to generate revenue for the firm. It can take decades to build a book of that size, industry experts say.
With these latest departures, Morgan Stanley has lost at least nine teams that each managed $1 billion or more in client assets in the past 17 months since Reuters began tracking veteran adviser moves.
UBS Wealth Management Americas, the U.S. brokerage unit owned by the Swiss bank UBS AG, is the fourth-largest U.S. brokerage by client assets. Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, majority owned by Morgan Stanley and partially owned by Citigroup, ranks first.
The two firms often vie for the same pool of veteran advisers, along with Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo & Co's Wells Fargo Advisors.