Lorie Konish/OWS: Last year our roundtable predicted a strong year for recruitment in 2012. How has this year been for your business?
Mindy Diamond: I don't think it was as robust as we may have predicted. While frustration levels at wirehouses remain high among advisors, I think that unforgiven or unamortized retention packages still were powerful golden handcuffs. I think that 2013 will be more robust than 2012.
Steve Rosen: We still have many brokers who are locked up, whose expiration on deferred comp starts to get thinner next year.
Danny Sarch: We had a great year. It was one of our best ever, if not the best. We placed people at different types of firms.
Bill Willis: There are people who really gave indications they were going to be moving, but just didn't for a variety of circumstances, not the least of which were the retentions. As they amortize, our business will improve.
Rick Peterson: We had a very good year, but not a great year, and it was all because of diversification and placing people more in independents and boutiques. That picked up the slack. I think 2013 is going to be terrific primarily because of the retention packages coming down.
Mickey Wasserman: I have seen a lot more interest coming from high profile teams, multi-million-dollar teams. They've never thought of looking before, but they've started to think about it.
Carri Degenhardt-Burke: It was a really poor year as far as the wirehouses go. As far as some of the regionals and independents, we haven't had lower billings in the last nine years. And it wasn't for lack of candidates. People just pulled the plug at the end of the recruiting process.
Diamond: Many big teams or single mega-producers just always assumed that they would retire from their firms. Those are the folks who are affected by the soon-to-be fully amortized or forgiven retention packages. And the fact that there are so many new opportunities for advisors who may want more independence as opposed to being captive, that helps. We're seeing more senior veterans exploring—and some moving—than ever.
OWS: Are there firms that have been more active in recruiting than others this year?
Rosen: You have the four major houses: Morgan Stanley, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and UBS. There's been a slowdown going into the boutique firms, the regional firms. There's certainly some momentum gone from the flight to independence. I think the regionals had their best day when a couple of the major houses were going through transitions and had problems. Now those issues are getting old.
Peterson: I disagree. Several surveys said that one out of every five brokers is going to change firms in 2013. Over half are going to look at the independent channel.
Rosen: The key word there is looking. I'm sure at least one out of five looks or thinks about it, but most don't do it. The ones who do it are brokers who have a unique or special type of business or smaller advisors who are not as welcome at the major firms because they're going to be in a penalty box.
Sarch: Ten years ago the only brokers that went independent were those in the penalty box because it was an economic decision. They would go from a 30% payout at a big firm to a 60% payout being on their own. Now you see bigger teams considering it for the first time, and it's for the freedom outside of the policies and procedures that they find so frustrating at the big firms.