A Morgan Stanley team that oversaw $540 million in client assets has left the wirehouse to join Stifel, according to the firm.

Veteran advisers Larry Watts, Casey Knowles, Robert Thompson and Brian Wilkinson are opening a new office for Stifel in Stockton, Calif.

The team generated $3.5 million in annual revenue, Stifel says.

John Pierce, head of recruiting for Stifel, says the firm is pulling in big producers. For the first quarter of this year, the average new recruit generated more than $1 million in annual revenue, Pierce says.

"Larger producers clearly see the advantage of Stifel for themselves, their team, their clients and their family," he says.

Watts and Thompson both started their careers at Smith Barney in 1983 and 1984 respectively, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. They moved to A.G. Edwards in 1984. Wilkinson joined them at the firm in 2000, and all three advisers switched to Morgan Stanley in 2008.

Knowles had been with the wirehouse since starting his career in 2001.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley was not available for comment.