A team that generated more than $1.3 million in annual revenue left Wells Fargo to join Steward Partners, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James, according to the firm.

The new hires are the latest to join Steward Partners, which expects to grow aggressively this year.

CEO Michael Maurer says that several big teams are expected to sign on with Steward in the next few months, bringing the firm's total recruited assets to about $5 billion.

"Our seven year plan was $10 billion. So after three years, we have a real shot of getting there," Maurer says.

So far this year Steward Partners says it has recruited teams managing more than $1 billion in client assets. The firm, which was founded in 2013 by several former wirehouse managers, has offices in Andover, Mass., Portsmouth, N.H., New York, Bethesda, Md., and Washington, D.C., where the latest team joined.


Similar to Steward Partners' other recent wirehouse recruits, Derek Majkowski and George Shirley say they left Wells Fargo because they were looking for a different firm culture.

"When we first started the process , we said it would be awesome if we could be with a company where we could be entrepreneurs but not deal with the structure and overhead," says Majkowski, who has 21 years of industry experience according to BrokerCheck."We talked to a wirehouse and the manager there told us that literally that world doesn't exist anymore."

A mutual acquaintance then introduced the duo to Maurer and Jeff Gonyo, divisional president of Steward Partners.

"We sat down for lunch with Michael and Jeff and within a minute and a half, we saw they had exactly what we wanted," Majkowski says.

Shirley, who has been partners with Majkowski since 2002, adds that the firm's backing from Raymond James as well as additional meetings, including one with Steward's board, helped seal the deal.

"After that, it was pretty clear that this was a place that we wanted to join," he says.


Maurer says that Raymond James' backing may prove to be critical as the regulatory environment changes due to the Department of Labor's forthcoming fiduciary rule.

Smaller, independent RIAs may become hard pressed to deal with increased costs and burdens, he says.

"I like the relationships, technology and budget that [Raymond James has]. But there are a lot of folks that may not get that same benefit because they have their own RIA, their own B-D and their own compliance operation that could be extraordinarily costly," Maurer says.

Executives at the firm say that scale as well as the promise of an equity stake may drive recruiting efforts this year.

"The wealth creator for a lot of advisors is [now] the equity component," says Gonyo.

The equity stake also helps create the culture that Steward Partners says appeals to wirehouse advisors, executives say.

Majkowski and Shirley, who oversaw more than $210 million while at Wells Fargo, will have an equity stake at Steward Partners – something both of them say was an important factor in their move.

"Here your opinion matters, your performance matters. And it impacts everyone. If that's not an incentive to do your best work, then I don't know what is," Shirley says.

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