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Brokers Flee Brokerages as Assets Show Broken Model

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After Morgan Stanley took control of Smith Barney in May 2009 from Citigroup Inc., David Hopkins grew disillusioned with his new bosses.

Hopkins, 50, says he had built a roster of about 150 clients with $38 million in assets in nine years as a stock broker at Smith Barney in Southern California. After the acquisition, the New York-based bank imposed new maintenance fees on Smith Barney accounts and stripped away some of the autonomy of its brokers -- moves that Hopkins says were hurting his relationships with investors.