It's not often that wirehouse advisors jump ship to join a bank. But that's exactly what John Lang and Michael Taylor of Morgan Stanley just did.

The duo abandoned the firm to launch a new ultrahigh-net-worth wealth management unit at BankPlus, a $2.5 billion bank based in Ridgeland, Miss., that uses LPL Financial as its third-party broker-dealer.

"This really had nothing to do with Morgan Stanley," said Lang, adding that his former employer was a fine firm. "It had everything to do with a fairly unique opportunity for the team."

200 CLIENTS, $350M AUM

Lang and Taylor, along with their two assistants who also moved over from Morgan Stanley, will have a chance to create their own office, while giving their clients access to 401(k), trust and other services that the bank offers, Lang said. They have roughly 200 clients with approximately $350 million in assets under management, according to Lang. 

Their unit, WealthPlus, will be part of the bank's wealth management group, which has about $1.3 billion in assets under management and employs eight advisors and a 10-person support staff, including 401(k) and financial planning specialists.

In addition to managing their client assets, the members of the new unit will partner with the bank's existing trust, estate planning, financial planning, family office and private client groups to provide a more comprehensive service to their high-net-worth clients, said David Cleland, president of BankPlus's wealth management group.

BankPlus's wealth management program started 12 years ago and was built from scratch, said Cleland. The bank tapped LPL Financial as its third-party broker dealer 10 years ago.

EXPAND WEALTH MANAGEMENT BUSINESS

The creation of the new unit was a "great opportunity to be able to expand what the bank was doing in wealth management," Cleland said.

BankPlus and LPL had multiple conversations with Lang and Taylor regarding their ability to service the advisors' clients, said Craig Kamis, senior vice president of business development for Institution Services of LPL.  The new advisors were as concerned about LPL's ability to service their existing clients as they were about their own ability to grow the business through the bank, he said.

Lang and his partner have worked together as partners for more than 27 years. They were partners in a firm called J.C. Bradford decades ago that was bought out by AG Edwards, which eventually was also bought out by Wachovia, which subsequently was bought by Wells Fargo.

Lang focuses on portfolio management, while Taylor handles client service and new business development.  Over the years, they've developed a stable of loyal clients willing to move with them wherever they go.

"Trust is an interesting commodity. If you have it, people will move with you. If you don't, you have to rebuild your business," Lang said.

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