Image: Bloomberg News
Image: Bloomberg News

Wells Fargo's concerted efforts to recruit roughly 350 Credit Suisse advisors include a lucrative recruiting package, face time with executives and some choice in how to affiliate with the firm.

The wirehouse is offering Credit Suisse advisors up to 300% of their trailing 12-month production to move to Wells Fargo Advisors, according to people familiar with the matter.

Credit Suisse advisors joining the wirehouse may choose to go into a traditional brokerage model or into an integrated wealth management model that combines aspects of the brokerage and Wells Fargo Private Bank, according to a Wells Fargo employee with knowledge of the deal.

Regardless of which channel they choose, advisors will have access to the services provided by the private bank as well as Abbot Downing, the person says.

Wells Fargo executives are also actively making their pitch. On Tuesday, executives held a video conference followed by a live Q&A with Credit Suisse advisors, according to people familiar with the matter.

One person described the presentation as impressive.

Next week, the wirehouse will bring Credit Suisse advisors to St. Louis to meet with Wells Fargo executives and experts in an effort to familiarize advisors with the firm's culture, reputation, products and capabilities, a person familiar with the matter says.

And Wells Fargo executives are also visiting Credit Suisse branches; the first visit took place this week morning, a source confirms.

'RECRUITING COUP'

But will Credit Suisse's roughly 350 advisors, who are regarded to be high-end, sign on?

Wells Fargo is an active recruiter, but isn't known for pulling in the biggest producers, insiders note. Among the ten largest advisor moves by AUM so far this year, none have gone to Wells Fargo, according to On Wall Street reporting.

Other firms like Merrill Lynch and UBS are likely to attract some Credit Suisse advisors. Indeed, Merrill recently recruited a team that managed $3.5 billion in client assets while at the Swiss-owned firm.

"Everybody wants them. They're considered among the best," says recruiter Danny Sarch. "They'll have many options."

And some advisors are wary of joining Wells Fargo, industry insiders say.

"Wells Fargo is still viewed as a strong main street firm," says Rob Blevins, a recruiter in Dublin, Ohio. "Credit Suisse is a high-end boutique investment bank that has that Swiss feel."

Blevins and other industry observers say that advisors looking for that kind of firm and a particular kind of brand may be looking elsewhere.

However, industry observers also note that the deal Wells Fargo is offering is competitive and it has the added bonus that the transition to a new firm will be smoother than normal.

People familiar with the matter say that Wells Fargo was able to reach this recruiting arrangement without buying the entire brokerage unit outright because Credit Suisse was eager to sell yet couldn't find a buyer.

It's a brilliant arrangement for Wells Fargo, says Bill Willis, a recruiter in Los Angeles.

"It's basically a recruiting coup. They're not going to end up with anyone who they don't want to have on board or who doesn't want to be there," Willis says.

And experts note another factor in Wells Fargo's favor; the company has a history of integrating advisors from different firms.

Finally, the deal will also help boost Wells' presence in lucrative high-net-worth markets like New York, Alois Pirker, an analyst with Aite Group, says.

"It's where Wells wants to expand," Pirker says.

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