Three Wells Fargo advisers who managed $160 million in client assets have left the wirehouse to join Steward Partners, according to the independent firm which is affiliated with Raymond James.

While at Wells Fargo, the advisers generated $1.6 million in annual revenue, according to Steward Partners.

Advisers Larry Natale, Mark Johnson and his son Dino opened a new office for the fast growing independent firm in Albany, New York. They say that they made the move in part because they were looking for more freedom in how they structure their practice and a different corporate culture.

"We can offer advice on accounts held away. We couldn't do that before. We can do a lot more social media, a lot more flexibility," Natale says. "I couldn't call the head of Wells for support, but I can at Steward. It feels more personal and I feel more connected."

"I couldn't call the head of Wells for support, but I can at Steward. It feels more personal and I feel more connected," says former Wells Fargo adviser Larry Natale.

While they looked at different options over the past year, going to another wirehouse wasn't seriously considered, the advisers say.

"The wirehouses were more of the same," Johnson says.

Biggest breakaways: Where advisers are moving now
The largest teams to go indie this year managed more than $5 billion in client assets.
(Bloomberg News)
(Bloomberg News)

Natale and Johnson are industry veterans, having started their careers in 1994 and 1983 respectively, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. In addition to Wells Fargo, they have previous work experience at Merrill Lynch. The younger Johnson began his career at Wells Fargo in 2014, per BrokerCheck.

A Wells Fargo spokeswoman declined to comment on their departure.

"The wirehouses were more of the same," adviser Mark Johnson says.

Natale also has a previous history with Jeff Gonyo, Steward Partners' divisional president, who started his career at Merrill's Albany office in 1993.

Although their careers later diverged, Natale says they kept in touch. He said he was impressed with Steward Partners' growth. The Washington-based firm was founded by several wirehouse managers in 2013. It has since recruited 30 advisers in seven offices, including Albany.

"In a way, it's a nice homecoming for me personally," Gonyo says of the new office.

He adds that this team won't be alone for too long; the office has space for about a dozen advisers, according to Gonyo.

"The opportunity to grow in this market is exciting. There are a lot of quality people here," Gonyo says.