Jamie Price, who had been president of Prudential Securities’ private client group, has left the firm and is moving to UBS PaineWebber, where he will report to Mark Sutton, head of PaineWebber’s private client group. Pru is replacing Price with Michael Rice, who until now had served as the No. 2 man in Pru’s system as executive vice president and executive direction of the retail branch group worldwide.

Meanwhile, Art Ryan, head of Prudential Financial, reiterated in a presentation today in New York that he wanted to iron out Pru Sec’s problems or sell it within two years, according to a source who attended the presentation.

A source at Pru characterized Price’s departure as voluntary, saying he decided to leave rather than being forced out. Price was a 10-year veteran of Pru. A spokesman at Prudential had no comment on Price’s departure. The transition for Rice should be relatively smooth, as he has been second-in-command at Pru’s private client group for two years, in charge of Pru’s domestic retail force. The group currently has over 5,000 financial advisors worldwide.

Price is expected to join a firm with approximately 8,300 advisors. UBS is currently the fourth largest of the brokerages in the U.S., and recruiters say the firm is actively looking to expand; his title has not been determined at this time, according to sources.

Meanwhile, Pru had been in a retrenchment period under the leadership of Price, as the firm has downsized its broker force, letting go of lower-end producers, to some extent as a result of large up-front deals signed by brokers during the latter stages of the bull market.

"It’s a bit of a shock," a Pru broker said of the change of leadership. "Jamie Price was good for the company, for a while at least, but times have changed. Our business has slumped and we’ve had to go through a lot of changes in the retail unit, mainly cutting reps and focusing on high-net worth investors. Apparently, Jamie did the job when things were up, but didn’t adjust well enough as things declined."

Rice joined Pru in 1997 as senior vice president of strategic business initiatives. In 1999, he was named chief administrative officer for the private client group. In November 2000, he was promoted to executive vice president of the branch system.

"Michael has been the driving force behind many of our most successful, investor-focused initiatives such as ‘client advisory process’ and ‘financial check up’," John Strangfeld, vice chairman of Pru's Investment Division, said in a statement. The Private Client group is part of the company’s financial advisory segment, which lost $21 million on an adjusted pretax basis in the nine months ended Sept. 30, compared with a loss of $105 million in the year-ago period.