Stifel Continues To Scorch Recruiting Trail; Quarterly Revenue Jump Directly Tied To Advisor Headcount And Larger Wirehouse Recruits

Stifel has been on an 18-month recruiting tear the likes of which hasn’t been seen on the wealth management industry since the financial crisis when nearly every big fish advisor was determined to jump into a different boat. The financial crisis is long gone and Stifel isn’t peppering advisors with sky-high recruiting packages either. This is good, old fashioned recruiting and culture. 

More than 80% of the recruits that have joined Stifel in 2019 have come directly from wirehouses Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, and Wells Fargo. Those firms have seen large teams exits on a consistent basis for what used to be known as regional firms. Stifel simply can’t be considered a regional firm anymore. Having nearly tripled advisor headcount in the last decade due to both news making acquisitions and smart recruiting, the nationwide footprint of the St. Louis based firm continues to mushroom.

Per Ron Kruzsewski, Stifel CEO:

We’re very pleased with our recruiting and especially pleased with the reception and enthusiasm that we have…in this environment,” Kruszewski said on a conference call with analysts after Stifel reported a 22% jump in second-quarter net income to $103.8 million. “In many ways, the advisor [is] being marginalized across many of these large platforms.”

And there it is… ‘in many ways, the advisor is being marginalized across many of these large platforms.’ That is the real impetus behind Stifel’s recruiting success and their strategy to exploit advisor displeasure with that dynamic, making it a place that advisors can find themselves valued in ways that they believed they were a decade ago at Merrill or Morgan.

The other remarkable truth about Stifel is this: when was the last time you noticed a meaningful departure from the firm? An advisor or team with $100MM in assets? We’d have to check the tape, but we don’t think its happened in any meaningful way over the past 2-3 years. Even when they acquired the ‘private-wealth’ style advisors from Barclays in 2015, they kept a large percentage of them.

The takeaway is simple for Stifel, leadership and culture matters – and eventually finds its way to the bottom line.

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