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Mar 19, 2012

Stifel settles Wisconsin schools’ lawsuit

March 19 (Reuters) – Stifel Financial Corp agreed on
Monday to pay $13 million to settle a 2008 lawsuit from five
Wisconsin school districts claiming they were misled by the
brokerage when it sold them $200 million of collateralized debt
obligations that then plunged in value.

The St. Louis, Missouri-based brokerage, serving as public
finance adviser to five school districts, had sold the districts
the investments linked to other debt securities that were
created by Royal Bank of Canada. CDOs across Wall Street
imploded when credit markets seized up during the financial
crisis.

Mar 15, 2012

UBS makes US broker boss McCann top paid exec

ZURICH/NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) – UBS
awarded U.S. brokerage chief Robert McCann 9.2 million
Swiss francs ($9.9 million) last year for leading the
turnaround of the unit, beating out group Chief Executive Sergio
Ermotti and investment bank head Carsten Kengeter as the Swiss
bank’s highest paid executive.

McCann, a former Merrill Lynch executive who joined UBS
in 2009, received a 1.3 million franc base salary and a
stock-based bonus of 4.7 million francs. His pay, exceptional
for a brokerage executive, is on par with the estimated $10.5
million James Gorman received last year for running all of
Morgan Stanley.

Mar 8, 2012

Morgan Stanley puts broker on leave in madam case

NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) – Morgan Stanley
said it has placed broker David S. Walker on leave, after
prosecutors said a 44-year-old mother of four accused of running
a brothel had visited the firm to discuss an online prostitution
venture.

Manhattan prosecutors arrested Anna Gristina of Monroe, New
York, on Feb. 22 on charges of promoting prostitution. She
pleaded not guilty. During her Feb. 23 arraignment, prosecutors
said she was arrested after meeting a Morgan Stanley employee at
one of the firm’s Manhattan offices to discuss an online venture
for matching male clients with female prostitutes.

Mar 7, 2012

Giant JPMorgan lures brokers with boutique pitch

NEW YORK, March 7 (Reuters) – JPMorgan Securities, the
brokerage arm of banking giant JPMorgan Chase & Co, is
trying to lure advisers from Wall Street rivals with an unlikely
pitch: “We’re actually a small boutique.”

Advising individual investors with stock brokers is a new
addition to the wealth management business of JPMorgan, already
one of the world’s largest private bankers to the ultra-rich.
The push makes the company a big competitor for the same top
advisers coveted by Morgan Stanley, Bank of America
Corp’s Merrill Lynch and UBS AG .

Feb 24, 2012

UBS hires former Bear Stearns CFO Molinaro

ZURICH (Reuters) – Swiss bank UBS has hired former Bear Stearns financial chief Samuel Molinaro as chief operating officer of its investment bank division, effective March 1, according to an internal memorandum viewed on Friday by Reuters.

Molinaro replaces Tom Daula, who becomes head of global research and analytics.

Meanwhile, the investment banking division’s co-head, Jimmy Neissa, will leave the bank in March to pursue family business interests, according to a second internal memo.

Feb 24, 2012

Merrill boss says brokers better off with bank

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Merrill Lynch brokerage boss John Thiel is firmly committed to cross-selling products from parent Bank of America to investors, something he says clients want and that will help advisers make more money.

Thiel’s views come after his predecessor Lyle LaMothe told Reuters he quit last year because he had concerns with the bank’s approach to wealth management, where selling an array of products and services distracted advisers from their central role of managing client finances and investments.

Feb 21, 2012

Merrill raises bid for rivals’ top brokers: sources

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bank of America’s (BAC.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) Merrill Lynch has launched a more aggressive recruiting campaign for top-tier brokers, including a bonus paid for transferring client assets after six months at the firm, two sources familiar with the new plan said Tuesday.

Merrill Lynch last week told managers that it was offering brokers from UBS, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, Wells Fargo and other firms an upfront cash payment equal to 150 percent of the fees and commissions they generated during the prior 12 months. The offer is limited to advisers whose performance put them in the top 40 percent of their peers, the two sources said.

Feb 15, 2012

Stifel earnings, revenue sink in line with views

Feb 15 (Reuters) – Regional brokerage Stifel Financial
Corp said difficult markets led, as expected, to lower
fourth-quarter earnings and revenue, but that business so far
this year is off to a stronger start as confidence and financial
markets rebound.

The St. Louis company on Wednesday said net income fell 35
percent to $27 million, or 43 cents a share, compared with
record $41.4 million, or 65 cents, a year ago.

Feb 15, 2012

Ex-Merrill broker boss slams bank on client focus

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lyle LaMothe, who last year retired as head of brokerage giant Merrill Lynch, is warning his former employer and other banks that obsessing over corporate goals at the expense of brokers and investors will ultimately damage their business.

When LaMothe abruptly left one of the highest-profile jobs on Wall Street last May, he cited personal reasons. But in his first interview since then, LaMothe, 50, said he had “philosophical” differences with the way Bank of America Corp approached wealth management, emphasizing the goals of the bank rather than specific needs of Merrill’s brokers and clients.

Feb 8, 2012

Independent broker LPL posts profit, but falls short

Feb 7 (Reuters) – LPL Investment Holdings Inc
, the top U.S. independent brokerage, on Tuesday
reported a fourth-quarter profit after a year-earlier loss, but
the results fell short of expectations as volatility and
economic worries slowed trading activity.

Boston-based LPL, which sells technology, clearing and other
services to an army of self-employed brokers, reported
fourth-quarter profit of $39.4 million, or 35 cents a share,
compared with a loss of $116 million, or $1.20 a share, in the
year-earlier period.