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High-flying strategists at big banks are suddenly playing musical chairs

David Bianco
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images
David Bianco

Three months into the new year, some of Wall Street's top firms have reshuffled their leading stock strategists.

Jim Paulsen decided to retire from his role as chief investment strategist at Wells Capital Management, effective May 22, the company said Wednesday. Paulsen has been at Wells Fargo for 20 years.

His departure follows similar moves in the industry. In mid-February, Adam Parker left his position as U.S. equity strategist at Morgan Stanley to become director of quantitative strategy at hedge fund Eminence Capital.

Morgan Stanley named Mike Wilson, chief investment officer at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, to take on the additional position of chief U.S. equity strategist in Parker's place.

At Deutsche Bank in early January, David Bianco moved from his role as U.S. equity strategist to become Deutsche Asset Management's chief investment strategist for the Americas and head of equities in the U.S. Binky Chadha, chief global strategist at Deutsche Bank, now provides the firm's U.S. stock market outlook. He had previously been the firm's top U.S. equity strategist.

Barclays also said earlier this year that Jonathan Glionna, its head of U.S. equity strategy research, has left the firm. Global Equity Research Strategist Keith Parker now publishes Barclays' S&P 500 forecast.

The strategist changes come as Wall Street's research industry finds itself in a more challenging situation thanks to increased regulation and lower profits. The number of investment bank research analysts has fallen by one-tenth since 2012, the Financial Times reported last month, citing data from Coalition.

At the end of February, Hong Kong-based CLSA closed its equity research offices in the U.S., partly due to declining payment for that research, a spokesperson told Reuters. The firm plans to launch fixed-income services in the U.S. this year, however.

Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank did not immediately respond to CNBC requests for comment. Barclays had no comment.

— CNBC's Patti Domm and Reuters contributed to this report.