July 22, 2021

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Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has hired a J.P. Morgan Private Bank advisor said to have overseen $4 billion in assets in a sign of wirehouses’ continued appetite for high-end private bankers.

Lee A. Sperling, who is based in New York, joined Morgan Stanley on Tuesday after a 60-day garden leave, according to a source familiar with his practice. He has signed on with an existing Morgan Stanley team in Indianapolis led by another former J.P. Morgan private banker, John D. Perry, the person said.

The source said Sperling’s production may have been around $20 million, although it was not clear if that or his assets had been shared among other advisors in his former office.

Sperling, who started his career at J.P. Morgan’s Private Bank on Madison Avenue nine years ago, could not be reached for comment. He is maintaining an office in New York, according to the source. His BrokerCheck report reflects his office location as Morgan Stanley’s headquarters in Purchase.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed the hire but declined to comment on assets or production.

Morgan Stanley executives have said that the Covid-19 pandemic and remote work era had accelerated the formation of “mega” teams with $50 million or more in combined revenue as brokers in different parts of the country were able to partner virtually. That was being driven in part by brokers who moved from other firms to partner with those existing teams, executives said.

Perry, who as a Chairman’s Club broker is in the top 3% of Morgan Stanley’s roughly 16,000 brokers based on his production, according to his firm bio, did not return a request for comment. He started his career with Merrill Lynch in 2001 and left J.P. Morgan to join Morgan Stanley in 2009, according to BrokerCheck.

More than a dozen J.P. Morgan Private Bank teams or solo-practitioners have left since October 2020, according to a tally of previously reported moves. The majority have joined UBS Wealth Management USA, while one group signed with the Royal Bank of Canada’s City National Bank last month, and another recently joined Chicago advisory firm Cresset Asset Management.

Morgan Stanley in May hired a team of three J.P. Morgan private bankers who had generated $7 million in annual revenue in Salt Lake City.

A spokesperson for J.P. Morgan did not immediately return a request for comment.

Morgan Stanley and other traditional brokerage firms have refocused on private bankers in the past year-and-a-half despite a historic reluctance. Recruiters say private bankers typically move only a fraction of their client base, whose assets and liabilities are often more closely tied to their former firm.

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