First Republic Lands $8.7 Million Merrill Private Wealth Team
First Republic Bank has beefed up its advisor force with the hire of another team of large producers from Merrill Lynch.
Their seven-person team is at least the third group of multi-million-dollar West Coast producers to make the Merrill-to-First Republic switch since late August.
First Republic has been reaching into wirehouses, and to Merrill in particular, to build the wealth management brokerage arm of its core private banking business. In August, it made waves when Phil Scott—an $18-million Merrill superstar in Bellevue, Wash., who had been with the Thundering Herd firm for 35 years—jumped to the bank.
Brian Addington, a San Francisco advisor producing $2.5 million who had been with Merrill and parent Bank of America for 14 years, followed in early September.
Merrill briefly owned First Republic, buying it in 2007 with unfortunate timing on the eve of the financial crisis and seeing Bank of America sell it back to bank executives and private equity firms two years later after rescuing Merrill.
The private bank, now publicly traded, has about 205 financial advisors (titled wealth managers and wealth advisors), according to its website.
That pales next to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s approximately 14,000 brokers, but for the past three years First Republic has been a thorn in the side of Merrill and other big firms by offering fat signing bonuses through former wirehouse managers who promise more autonomy and visions of referrals of ultra-wealthy bank customers, according to recruiters.
First Republic added ten multi-million dollar teams last year, but suffered a setback when the $16-billion-asset team of former Merrill advisors who put it on the retail brokerage map left in June 2019 following expiration of their non-compete contracts. First Republic had bought their RIA, Luminous Capital, in 2012 for $125 million.
McNamee and White, whose corporate offices at Merrill and First Republic are minutes away from each other in Los Angeles’s Century Park East complex, did not return requests for comment on their move. Their three client associates and two relationship managers also made the shift, according to several sources.
McNamee has been registered to sell securities since July 1997, according to his BrokerCheck history, spending all 23 years at Merrill. Barron’s ranked him #52 on its 2020 list of California’s top 120 “Best-in-State” advisors, based on September 2019 metrics. Prior to joining Merrill, he worked as an interest rate interdealer broker and as a relationship manager at a money management firm, according to his former Merrill biography.
White began his brokerage career at Lehman Brothers in August 1992, according to his BrokerCheck history, and worked for two years at Prudential Securities before joining Merrill in September 1996. He ranked #66 on Forbes’ 2020 best-in-California broker lists, which said that as of January 2020 his team had $4.6 billion of assets in custody with Merrill.
The team works with about 70 households of “multigenerational families and institutions” with average net worths of $100 million, according to their biographies.
McNamee and White have no disclosures of complaints from customers or regulators on their BrokerCheck histories.