UBS, Morgan Stanley Teams in Texas Merge into Independence

by Grete Suarez

View Original Article — AdvisorHub

A trio of Houston brokers—two from Morgan Stanley and the third from UBS Financial Services—joined forces last Friday to create Icon Wealth Partners, a registered investment adviser, according to Dynasty Financial Partners, which assisted them with the move.

The Morgan Stanley partners, Mark McAdams and Steve Schwarzbach, had been with the brokerage giant and its Smith Barney predecessor since 1993 and 2008 respectively. Blake Pratz, a 31-year securities industry veteran, left UBS in September to set up the new venture.

“We have known Blake for over 20 years,” Schwarzbach said. “It has to do with a longstanding relationship.”

Pratz, who began his career at Dean Witter Reynolds and Texas regional Rotan Mosle before it was absorbed into PaineWebber, worked at Smith Barney for 15 years in the same period that McAdams was there, according to their BrokerCheck histories.

Icon, whose partners were managing about $750 million of client assets, “immediately becomes one of the largest financial advisory firms in Texas with the intent to attract seasoned, like-minded advisors seeking independence,” Dynasty Chief Executive Shirl Penney said in a prepared statement.

The firm targets high net worth individuals, business owners and professionals, with an emphasis on lawyers and their firms, according to the statement. Though the business is primarily fee-based, both Pratz and Schwarzbach are registered to do brokerage business through independent broker-dealer Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments, according to Finra’s BrokerCheck database.

Pratz and McAdams said they were eager to link up to ensure continuity for their clients. “Succession is a big part of this business,” McAdams said. “I wouldn’t trust our clients with anyone else but these guys.”

Neither he nor his partners were explicit about their reasons for ending their extended wirehouse careers.

“The drive for independence is less about the previous model we operated in, and more about running our own firm,” Schwarzbach said. “We maintain great relationships with our previous firms.”

In addition to the partners, Icon includes client relationship managers Cindy Pickett and Jennifer Moore, who were at UBS with Pratz, and Annette Latigue from Morgan Stanley. The team also includes Ricardo Mihaly, who joined from MSI Financial Services, who is senior director of planning and investments.