February 22, 2012 / 9:06 PM / 6 years ago

RBC Wealth hires adviser duo from Morgan Stanley

(Reuters) - RBC Wealth Management, a division of the Royal Bank of Canada (RY.TO) RY.N, has hired two veteran advisers from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney who focus on high-net-worth celebrity clients.

A Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) sign is seen in downtown Toronto March 3, 2011. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

Advisers George Feneis and Paul Granito, of the FG Group, joined RBC on Wednesday from Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, where they managed more than $350 million in client assets, and last year generated close to $3 million in revenue.

Granito said he and Feneis, both legacy Smith Barney advisers, first looked into making a move shortly after the merger of Morgan Stanley’s (MS.N) wealth management division and Citigroup’s (C.N) Smith Barney in 2009, when the two units combined to create the largest U.S. brokerage.

“Once the merger came about, we started seeing some changes coming down the pike that were streamlining the industry as ‘one size fits all,'” Granito said.

“The large wirehouse mentality became so focused on scale versus individual service for the client and the adviser that it almost became a hindrance to attempt to do business there,” he said, which prompted the advisers to look for a firm with a more individualized focus.

The move to RBC represents a stark change in culture and size for the adviser duo. RBC Wealth Management has about 2,000 advisers across the United States, less than one-eighth the size of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney’s network of roughly 17,300 advisers.

RBC Wealth Management has $227 billion in assets under management, while Morgan Stanley Smith Barney has about $1.6 trillion in assets under management.

Feneis, 71, and Granito, 34, are a well-known team in the New York metropolitan area after the two advisers joined together five years ago after partnering on one of their client accounts.

“We’ve combined the old and the new, and we’ve built a brand in New York as one of the bigger players,” Granito said.

Feneis, a 45-year industry veteran, had been with his old firm for more than three decades.

The advisers, based in Paramus, New Jersey, now report to regional branch director Scott Fergang. They are joined by Serena Montefusco, a senior registered client associate.

Feneis and Granito represent the second round of big hires out of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney into RBC Wealth Management. RBC said in early February it hired Roger Molatore, also a legacy adviser from Smith Barney, in Portland, Oregon.

Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York, editing by Matthew Lewis

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