First Republic Hires $16-Million Merrill Team in Palo Alto
(Updates with additional details in fourth paragraph.)
A Merrill Lynch broker responsible for $16 million in annual revenue joined First Republic Bank’s private wealth unit on Friday, continuing a tradition of moving over a holiday weekend in which brokers gain extra hours to contact former clients.Arif Ahmed, who has spent his 20-year brokerage career with Merrill, led his 10-person team to the San Francisco-based bank, according to people familiar with the move.
They managed about $4 billion of client assets, putting them in the top tier of Merrill Private Wealth Management (formerly PBIG) brokers who cater to multi-millionaire customers, the sources said.
Ahmed began his brokerage career with Merrill in Washington, D.C., in September 1998, but established an outpost in the heart of Silicon Valley in Palo Alto to win business from technology entrepreneurs, said two people familiar with his history. His team is based in Washington, but Ahmed travels frequently to the West Coast to meet with top executives at Uber Technologies, Airbnb, and other prominent tech companies, according to people who claim familiarity with his book.
An exemplar of Merrill Wealth President Andy Sieg’s campaign to generate more new accounts and assets from the firm’s 14,000 brokers, Ahmed was one of 400 awarded Merrill’s first “Excellence in Growth” recognition trips last year. (Eric Bodner and Ben Sax, leaders of a New York-based Private Wealth group generating $15 million who were also inaugural growth award winners, last summer launched their own advisory firm.)
Spokespeople at Merrill did not return requests for comment on Ahmed’s move.
Merrill spokesman Matthew Card on Tuesday said that attrition rates among Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s more than 14,000 advisors are at “near historic lows” of about 3% annually.
Ahmed did not return a message left on his cell phone requesting comment on his decision.Two sources said that he ranked among the top ten brokers in the Bank of America-owned wealth unit, and perhaps in the top five.
First Republic has been aggressively pursuing high-end brokers from Merrill and other wirehouses with lucrative offers in recent years. The bank last spring lured Boston advisor James Atwood, whose 15-person team was generating $22 million of revenue.
Brian Riley, a former Merrill Lynch PBIG regional manager, worked as a First Republic senior recruiter until leaving earlier this month.
Merrill purchased First Republic in 2007, but Bank of America resold it to private equity firms and some bank executives in 2009 during the financial crisis. First Republic went public in late 2010.
Ahmed has three “disclosure events” on his BrokerCheck record, including an almost $459,000 settlement with a customer in 2012 who alleged unsuitable investments involving interest-rate swaps. An earlier 2008 suitability claim for $336,000 was settled for $85,000 and a third complaint from 2000 involving technology stocks was denied, according to BrokerCheck.