An adviser who oversaw $100 million in client assets moved to Steward Partners, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James, according to the company.

Michael Germano joined Steward Partners' New York office last week. He previously worked at Citigroup Personal Wealth Management, and cites Steward Partners and Raymond James' culture and technology as reasons for his move.

"I was at Citi for nearly 12 years. Solid people. But I was at a stage of my career where I was looking to be more empowered and to give my clients more flexibility," Germano tells On Wall Street.

Germano is among the latest new recruits at Steward Partners. The independent firm says it has added advisers overseeing more than $1 billion so far this year. Last month, Steward Partners hired three Morgan Stanley teams to open a new office in Clearwater, Florida, expanding its reach beyond its traditional base in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Those teams oversaw more than $700 million in client assets.

Expanding to Florida was a natural fit for the firm's geographic reach, says CEO Jim Gold. Steward Partners has eight other offices located in the Northeast, from Washington north to Andover, New Hampshire. Steward Partners expects to add more advisers this year and to open new offices, Gold says, adding that potential recruits are now reaching out to them.

"This will be a record year for the firm," he says.

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The growth spurt also comes as the firm's leadership has changed; founding partner Michael Maurer and the firm recently parted ways. Gold confirmed his departure, but declined to comment further. Maurer also declined to comment.

Gold and several other founding partners are former wirehouse branch managers and executives.

Though the firm has been on a strong recruiting push for some time, it appears to be on something of a hot streak as of late. Since its founding in 2013, Steward Partners has picked up more than 50 advisers with over $42 million in trailing twelve-month production and over $5.5 billion in AUM. Almost a fifth of that growth in terms of AUM has come this year.

Recruiting success comes in part from momentum, Gold says. "You have it or you don't."

Adviser Michael Germano left Citigroup to work at Steward Partners, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James.
Adviser Michael Germano left Citigroup to work at Steward Partners, an independent firm affiliated with Raymond James.

'A GROWTH STOCK'

Steward Partners' backing by Raymond James has also helped. Germano cited his visit to the St. Petersburg, Florida, headquarters of Raymond James as one of the reasons he joined the firm.

"You could see the culture first hand," he says.

Germano says he now plans to focus on growing his practice, which is primarily advisory-based. He says he takes a holistic approach to planning.

He also a relatively young planner for the industry; he turns 39 later this month.

Gold, noting the industry's aging demographics, says Germano's age is an asset.

"When I look at Michael, and he's a guy in his 30s who's grown a really good business, who is a smart guy and wants to continue to grow his business, I see him as a growth stock for the firm," he says.