Wells Fargo loses broker over policy change on international clients

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A financial advisor seeking a new broker-dealer after her prior firm dropped its international business joined a company whose specialty is serving practices that have foreign clients.

Paula Oddone left Wells Fargo Advisors after 18 years to join the Snowden Lane Partners branch in Coral Gables, Florida, her new firm said on Sept. 7. As a sole practitioner, Oddone manages more than $135 million in client assets across a base spanning South America and Central America, as well as the Caribbean.

Just like some other teams leaving Wells Fargo this year, Oddone cited the giant wealth manager’s decision in January to cease working with international clients as the main reason for her move. Corporate policy changes that are out of advisors’ control often lead them to change firms in search of greater flexibility.

“It was the best decision to take care of my diverse group of clients,” Oddone said in an interview. “A focus on international [business] for me was fundamental.”

Despite certain advisors and teams breaking away from the wirehouse as a result of the decision, about 90% of the brokers who lost business have ultimately stayed with Wells Fargo, the wealth management news website AdvisorHub reported late last month. That retention, however, hasn’t stemmed the overall flow of advisor exits: Wells Fargo’s headcount slipped by 9.8% year-over-year to 12,819 in the second quarter, according to its latest earnings statement.

Representatives for Wells Fargo declined to comment on Oddone’s departure.

Since launching in 2011, New York-based Snowden Lane has emerged as part of the expanding group of rivals attracting breakaway brokers from firms like Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch. CEO Rob Mooney spent 22 years with Merrill Lynch, working out of its offices in New York, Singapore, Hong Kong and London as general counsel and chief business risk officer for the firm’s global wealth management unit and as a senior executive in its international private client division and Asia Pacific region.

“From the very start, we decided to be active in international markets,” Mooney said. “We found that Wells Fargo’s decision to withdraw was a great opportunity for us to showcase our platform that we’ve been developing for years.”

The firm has 63 advisors with about $8.5 billion in client assets across a dozen offices nationwide. Its newest advisor, Oddone, previously served on Wells Fargo’s International Advisory Board and is joining Snowden as a partner and managing director. Over her three decades in the industry with prior tenures at firms such as Prudential, Oppenheimer & Co. and PaineWebber, she has particular expertise among clients from Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Panama and Colombia.

Snowden Lane has proven adept at attracting practices like Oddone’s, according to recruiter Mark Elzweig.

“Their partnership and multi-custodial model is resonating with advisors,” Elzweig said in a LinkedIn message. “They are also one of a small group of firms that is set up to do international business.”

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