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A security worker stands next to the Macquarie Group logo in central Sydney in this Feb. 9, 2010, file photo. A group of Canadian Macquarie Private Wealth Inc. brokers are upset over the sale of their employer to independent investment firm Richardson GMP Ltd. Now they are exploring their options to thwart the sale, jump ship or even start up their own firm.DANIEL MUNOZ/Reuters

A group of Canadian Macquarie Private Wealth Inc. brokers are upset over the sale of their employer to independent investment firm Richardson GMP Ltd.

Now they are exploring their options to thwart the sale, jump ship or even start up their own firm.

The two investment businesses were thrust together on Sept. 9 when Richardson GMP agreed to pay about $132-million for Australian bank Macquarie Group Ltd.'s Canadian retail business. The merger could nearly double Richardson GMP's assets under administration to $28-billion.

But some brokers, particularly in the Calgary office, were unimpressed with Richardson GMP's initial presentation and lack of a strategic plan for the firm, according to a source familiar with the talks.

Several employees have contemplated reaching out to regulators or breaking away to open their own shop if they could drum up the regulatory capital, the person said, estimating that between $5-billion and $10-billion in assets could be in jeopardy.

If too many assets leave with the brokers, it could cause problems for Richardson GMP's deal, as well as the firm's chief executive officer, Andrew Marsh.

But holding on to investment advisers who have sway over billions of dollars in assets was always going to be a challenge. As Streetwise reported, the firm was sure to face demands for retention payments, and other companies such as National Bank of Canada, have previously struggled in similar situations to keep talent from migrating to competitors.

Frustrated brokers say they are somewhat concerned about losing their way of doing business, such as their office culture and their community giving programs, which were initiatives championed by Earl Evans, head of Macquarie Private Wealth Canada.

In an interview following the sale, Mr. Marsh said Macquarie and Richardson GMP needed to spend some more time learning about each other. The 2009 merger between GMP Private Client and Richardson Partners Financial (which created Richardson GMP) taught him patience, Mr. Marsh explained, and said he intends to move more slowly on the Macquarie deal. "We need to fully understand the best and worst of each of our firms – because no firm is perfect," he said. Mr. Marsh wasn't immediately available to comment for this story.

Some of Macquarie's staff have already been through several transitions. The firm has absorbed scores of companies throughout its history, including Blackmont Capital, First Associates Investment Inc., Rockwater Capital Corp. and Yorkton Securities.

The brokers' anger could be soothed by stronger leadership, says one source. With better planning and communication, it might be possible to assuage the tensions.

(Jacqueline Nelson is a Globe and Mail Financial Services Reporter.)

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