The recruiting frenzy among regional firms for breakaway wirehouse brokers is still going strong. Robert W. Baird, Commonwealth Financial and RBC Wealth Management announced recruiting coups.

Baird, a Milwaukee-based regional broker/dealer with about 600 reps, set a recruiting record in the first six month of 2009. The b/d, whose advisors manage about $48 billion in client assets, hired 77 financial advisors in the first half of the year compared with 59 hires in all of 2008. Of the 77, 94 percent joined from a wirehouse, 3 percent from another regional and the remaining from a bank/trust. Their combined assets stand at about $4.7 billion, and their combined revenue is about $43 million. Further, 10 percent of the new reps are million dollar producers, and 25 percent in excess of $750,000.

In April, Baird’s Private Wealth Management director, Mike Schroeder, told Rep. the target recruit should have at least $100 million in client assets and at least $500,000 in production. In January and February alone, Baird hired 26 advisors—all but one came from wirehouses.

Regional b/ds have been gaining advisors and assets at the expense of wirehouse firms that are either losing coveted producers and/or trimming the bottom tiers of the their advisory forces.

Doug Dannemiller, a senior analyst at the Aite Group, says advisors who weren’t offered retention bonuses at wirehouses are more likely to change channels. Advisors with production levels of $300,000 or $500,000 are more attractive in the regional or independent b/d space, he says. (Click here for more on the asset gains regionals and independents have made.)

Just today, for example, RBC Wealth Management announced it hired, Douglas Mance, a 28-year Merrill Lynch veteran with $600,000 in production and more than $150 million in client assets. So far this fiscal year, RBC says it’s recruited 287 reps, compared with 157 advisors in all of fiscal 2008.

According to Discovery Database, the percent of wirehouse reps leaving and moving to a regional b/d has gradually increased since January. Just seven percent of those wirehouse reps making moves in January joined regional b/ds. In June, that number was up to 19 percent.

Independent b/ds are also getting their fare share of breakaway brokers. In June, 20 percent of wirehouse brokers making moves joined an independent b/d. But not every wirehouse rep with a pulse is able to make that move.

Last month, Commonwealth’s John Rooney told Rep. his firm has turned down more than half of the interested wirehouse advisors on the first call. (See Registered Rep.’s Top 100 Independent Advisor package in the upcoming August issue for more on that.)

Today, Commonwealth announced it added three teams from competing independent b/ds. The firms, previously affiliated with Financial Services Corp, or FSC (an AIG Advisor Group b/d) and Financial Network Investment Corp. (an ING b/d), bring with them more than $1.25 billion in assets under management.