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Morning Coffee: Goodbye Morgan Stanley, Hello Merrill

Buried beneath headlines of massive layoffs at almost every large bank is a quiet truth: financial firms are in serious need of revenue-generating wealth managers.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Merrill Lynch has asked regional managers to actively recruit top Morgan Stanley brokers who appear willing to defect.  It’s willing to pay big cash bonuses to add to its stable of existing brokers.

While other areas of banking such as private equity, mergers and acquisitions and foreign exchange are suffering, wealth management is booming as investors reduce their tolerance for risk and look for greater stability. For the year ended September 1, postings for jobs in wealth management on eFinancialCareers rose 55% compared to the previous year.

Morgan Stanley brokers are particularly ripe for picking. The firm, the Journal notes, just finished a painful and highly disruptive computer system integration that irked many wealth managers. The Facebook IPO debacle also tarnished its reputation, giving brokers another reason to test the free agent waters.

Adding insult to injury, two highly successful Morgan Stanley advisers, Brian Luts and David Greenleigh, announced Tuesday they are taking their book of business independent with Wells Fargo.

Mortgage Fallout (AP)

The New York attorney general’s office filed a civil lawsuit against J.P. Morgan Chase, alleging the bank’s Bear Stearns unit conspired to commit fraud in selling risky mortgage-backed securities.

Coming On Board (WSJ)

High frequency trading firms have finally acknowledged that computers don’t know it all. They’ve agreed to put in new controls to prevent further technology glitches.

Out-of-Work Millionaires (Bloomberg)

Lawmakers are considering tweaking the unemployment law following a Congressional Research Service report that found nearly 2,400 Americans with annual household incomes of $1 million or more filed for unemployment benefits in 2009.

Cohen’s Club (Bloomberg)

Noah Freeman, a former portfolio manager at SAC Capital Advisors who pleaded guilty to securities fraud last year, reportedly told the FBI that it was “understood” that providing trading ideas to founder Steven Cohen meant you had inside information. Cohen isn’t facing charges.

More Madoff Charges (NY Times)

Five former employees of Bernie Madoff’s investment firm face 17 additional criminal counts after the U.S. Attorney’s office revised their indictments.

Tearful Witness (Financial News)

John Hughes, a former UBS employee who worked with accused rogue trader Kweku Adoboli, broke down in tears in court on Tuesday after reading, for apparently the first time, an email Adoboli sent that acknowledges booking trades without counterparties.

SEC Adding Talent (eFinancialCareers)

The number of job openings at the Securities and Exchange Commission has increased 38% this year. Candidates with backgrounds in high-frequency trading and derivatives are wanted.

Buzz Around the Office

Moving Up a Weight Class (NY Post)

A 220-pound gym teacher is suing the city of Queens, New York for physical and emotional damages after he was “beaten up” by a 4-foot, 50-pound first grader.

List of the Day: Reference Checks

Poor reference checks eliminate one out of every five candidates from consideration. Here’s how to make sure you’re not one of them.

  1. Research your own references to make sure they are in good standing.
  2. Educate them on the job requirements.
  3. Choose references that are enthusiastic and upbeat.

(Source: Glassdoor)

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor

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The essential daily roundup of news and analysis read by everyone from senior bankers and traders to new recruits.