Merrill and Morgan Stanley Brokers Shift to Stifel, RayJay and Wells’ FiNet
(Updated with details about brokers who joined Raymond James.)
Three Merrill Lynch brokers in Dallas who had almost $2 million in combined production jumped ship before the long holiday weekend to Stifel, Nicolaus & Co.
Lance C. Whitworth, John R. “JR” Koeijmans and Steven “Jake” Wignall, who together managed $250 million in client assets, joined Stifel on Thursday, a Stifel spokesman confirmed. The three had 12-month trailing revenue of $1.95 million at Merrill, said a person familiar with their practice.
Whitworth, the senior member of the team, is in his mid-30s and began his brokerage career in 2005 at A.G. Edwards before migrating to Merrill two years later. Koeijmans and Wignall each secured their broker licenses at Merrill, in 2009 and 2015 respectively, according to BrokerCheck.
The advisors did not return calls for comment on the reasons for their move.
A fourth member of the young team, Alexander B. Anderson, remains at Merrill, where he first registered as a broker four years ago.
“These are rising stars in North Texas,” said Bob Johnson, a former Merrill private wealth regional manager who joined Stifel a year ago to run its Texas region.
A Merrill spokeswoman confirmed the departures but declined to comment further.
Merrill has been trying to recruit and retain younger advisors in order to offset retirements within its aging advisor force and to counter its retreat from the expensive hiring of veteran brokers.
Separately, three Morgan Stanley brokers in Short Hills, N.J., who were producing $4.1 million in annual revenue, left on April 11 to become independent brokers with Raymond James Financial Services.
Joseph John Cataldo, Giovanni Duran and Nicholas Penna opened IronRidge Wealth Management Group in nearby Basking Ridge on April 11, Duran confirmed. Cataldo and Duran, who have been brokers for 29 and 21 years, respectively, had generated $3.8 million of the team’s annual revenue, he said. They joined Morgan Stanley in 2009 by way of Smith Barney.
Penna, who Duran said had around $300,000 in production, has worked for his seven-year career only at Morgan Stanley.
The team had been considering starting their own firm for several years because they had been frustrated with annual compensation changes and because they felt they were self-sufficient and no longer needed home office support, Duran said.
“We do everything. We do the financial planning. We run the portfolios. We do the client engagement,” Duran said. “Why give up 60% [of payout] when I’m doing it all myself anyway?”
Morgan Stanley’s Short Hills office also lost the seasoned team of Mark S. Rodrick, Fred Jaramillo and Jason Sprung in January to independence. They affiliated with Wells Fargo’s Financial Network, setting up shop under Bridgehaven Financial Advisors, in Warren, N.J., Rodrick said.
Rodrick, 49, began his brokerage career with Merrill in 1994 and also worked at UBS Financial Services before joining Morgan Stanley in 2010. Jaramillio, his brother-in-law, first registered as an advisor in 2003 with UBS Financial Services. Sprung began his brokerage career in 1988 with Merrill in 1988, shifted to UBS in 2001 and joined Morgan Stanley in 2008, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Morgan Stanley executives said last week that advisor retention has been strong, despite the runoff in January of retention loans extended in 2009 to Smith Barney brokers. The firm, which has almost 16,000 advisors, has made it more challenging for brokers to leave with its 2017 decision to exit the Protocol for Broker Recruiting. The pact allows departing brokers to retain some customer contact information if they move to other Protocol signatories.
“It’s very onerous now,” Rodrick said of the moving process, which was vetted closely with the team’s lawyers. “You have to send announcement cards like you’re getting married.”