Headhunters are likening the recruitment landscape in wealth management to a seller's market. Nine seasoned headhunters who joined On Wall Street's annual recruiters panel are watching closely as contracts signed after the financial crisis seven years ago begin to expire.

Their expectations? Several say the moves will continue in the coming months, and likely increase in number and size. "This is a golden age for advisors. It's also a golden age for headhunters," notes recruiter Danny Sarch. But movement is likely to be across all employee advisory channels.

Many more advisors than in recent years past will likely be thinking about the possibilities, our panel says. The question is, "What's your best move?"

Some say Merrill Lynch lost its luster after being purchased by Bank of America. But Mickey Wasserman disagrees. "Everybody takes pot shots at them, and the perception is not correct. I know that several advisors that have moved into Merrill Lynch over the past couple of years and absolutely love it over there."

Despite the firm's decision to use more deferred comp, Morgan Stanley still wins support. "Wealth management at Morgan Stanley represents almost 50% of bottom line revenue, so it's exceedingly relevant," says Mindy Diamond.

UBS also has its boosters: "There have been a lot questions as to whether they would survive, whether they would be sold, and I don't think you have that many brokers who really want to leave," Michael King says.

Wells Fargo scores probably the biggest selling point: "This is the easiest place to do business among the big four [wirehouses]," Bill Willis says.

One of the most popular destinations for advisors? Raymond James. The firm is emerging as a super regional for its aggressive recruiting, growth on a national scale and culture. "A brilliant job of internal marketing as well as external marketing, because otherwise we wouldn't be talking about it," Elizabeth McCourt says. Bottom line? Watch this space.


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