Now that J.P Morgan announced its retention package, Bear Stearns advisors are faced with a big question: Do I stay or do I go?
Today’s retention package makes obvious the kind of advisors CEO Jamie Dimon is hoping will call his firm home. Bear advisors with at least $500,000 in production will receive 75 percent cash and 25 percent J.P. Morgan stock upfront. Their production over the next three years will be averaged, and they will then receive an additional 50 percent in cash and 50 percent in stock. For advisors in the $250,000 to $500,000 production range, Dimon is offering an upfront deal with 25 percent cash and 25 percent in stock. Bear reps under the $250,000 mark have not been made an offer. Further, reps that decide to take the deal are required to stay with J.P. Morgan for 7 years.
Reaction from Bear advisors is mixed. One Bear rep with about $300,000 in production says his team is happy with the offer, and will most likely take it: “It’s an enormous difficulty to move your accounts. If you leave, the other brokers here are calling your clients, and you’ve lost half your book.” And the financials behind Dimon’s offer? “It’s a huge discount compared to what others on the street are offering, but J.P. Morgan is a very good strong firm,” he says. He points to the volatile market, and says being with a financially sound firm is “very important” to Bear reps at this time.
But other Bear reps say the offer is not good enough. A California-based advisor with over $1 million in production says he’s “definitely leaving,” because he’s getting “much better offers” from wirehouse firms.
Wirehouses and other investment banks are offering deals as high as 240 percent of trailing-12 month production, according to industry recruiters. “There’s been a lot of movement by Bear advisors, and now with this kind retention offer from J.P. Morgan, there will be more,” says Howard Diamond, managing director of Diamond Consulting, a recruiting firm in Chester, N.J. “The deal is simply not sweet enough to keep high-end advisors. We were expecting a more handsome, attractive package.”
And now that a deal is on the table, Dimon’s plea to rivals to stop hiring Bear reps is null, and competitors will be recruiting aggressively, Dimond says. “If I was honoring that request, my gloves would come off now, and all bets are off,” he says.