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A Brokerage War Stalemate

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Turnover rates at the big brokerage companies have plummeted to historic lows.

"Financial adviser turnover at the four wirehouses — Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC , Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS AG and Wells Fargo & Co. — dropped to near- historic lows over the past 12 months," Investment News reports.

From Investment News:

Reports on first-quarter earnings showed that the wirehouses employed 55,204 advisers as of March 31, up 238 from the total a year earlier.

Merrill Lynch hired the most net new advisers over the 12-month period (517) and MSSB shed the most (340). UBS had 56 fewer advisers, while Wells Fargo added 117.

Many of these firms have been engaged in efforts to retain their financial advisers, including generous bonus packages that only pay out if a financial adviser remains at the company for several years.

These appear to be working.

But there also might be a psychological side to this. The status of financial advisers has risen on Wall Street. It was in decline for years as traders and investment bankers garnered more profits for their firms. This decline made lots of financial advisers less satisfied at their jobs, which made poaching them easier.

These days, financial advisers are back in style, thanks to a dearth of investment banking business and a Dodd-Frank driven decline in trading revenues. This probably makes them harder to lure out of their jobs to a new firm.

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