A group of senior Morgan Stanley managing directors, each with an average 25 years at the bank, has broken away to form their own advisory boutique in a move that underscores the difficulties large securities firms are facing in dealing with clients, staff and regulators.

The new boutique – Dean Bradley Osborne or DBO Partners – plans to hire aggressively, not only from Morgan Stanley but from other Wall Street banks.

“There is huge dissatisfaction on Wall Street,” said Gordon Dean, a DBO director and former vice-chairman of Morgan Stanley. The firm takes its name from its directors who come from Morgan Stanley’s US west coast operations, also including Mark Bradley and Nick Osborne.

DBO, like other advisory firms such as Lazard and Greenhill, hopes to take business away from Wall Street banks that are vulnerable to conflicts of interest concerns when they offer high-paying equity and debt financing services at the same time as providing an advisory role.

“We will be what Wall Street was 30 years ago, before investment banking became less important and highly leveraged trading more important,” says Mr. Bradley, former global head of financial sponsors at Morgan Stanley. “Clients have learnt to trust individuals more than the institutions.”

Among those joining the group is Rob Bernier who until recently was with the New York office of CVC, the London-based private equity group. “Having been a client of Wall Street for the last 15 years we always worried about the independence of the advice we received,” Mr. Bernier said.

DBO received its first mandate when it was appointed as adviser to San Francisco-based URS, an engineering and construction consultancy, that this week agreed to buy Flint Energy Services, the Canadian oilfield services provider, for C$1.25bn (US$1.25bn).

Other mandates are being discussed, according to DBO directors.

Jim Coulter, co-founder of TPG, said DBO’s founders would “bring great expertise to their clients”.

“In this complicated M&A and advisory market there is a place for both full service and boutique firms,” Mr Coulter added.

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