Merrill Duo Managing $571 Million Joins Stifel in Texas
A Merrill Lynch duo managing $571 million in client assets resigned on Thursday to join Stifel Financial’s Stifel Nicolaus broker-dealer in the Houston suburbs, according to a spokesman for the hiring firm.Bart A. Reese, who spent all of his 27-year career at Merrill, and his partner Zachary R. Williams, who spent the last 15 years of his career at the firm, are opening a new Stifel office in Sugar Land, Texas. The two, who moved along with three associates, had generated $3.4 million combined in fees and commissions in the past year, according to a source familiar with their practice.
Reese, who was a “resident director” at his former Sugar Land branch, according to his Merrill website, will be branch manager for the new Stifel office. It is the St. Louis-based firm’s 13th in the state.
Williams started his career at Primevest Financial and also worked at LPL Financial before joining Merrill in 2003, according to his BrokerCheck history. Neither Reese, whose older brother, George Reese, is a portfolio analyst on the team, nor Williams were available for comment on their motives for moving, according to a person answering the phone at their office.
The two chose Stifel in part because they knew Bob Johnson, the former head of the southwest region for Merrill’s private wealth business who moved to Stifel in Dallas last year to oversee the firm’s recruiting efforts in the West, the source said. In January, Stifel hired a Merrill duo producing $4.6 million to open a new office in Fort Worth.
“We have crossed $10 billion in net new assets under management so far in 2019, mainly from financial advisors in bank-owned entity channels,” Stifel’s head of recruiting, John Pierce, said in a prepared statement.
A spokeswoman for Merrill did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.
Separately, Merrill on Thursday filled a month’s long vacancy in its Minneapolis market. The firm shifted Michael Lawrence, who had been running the St. Louis market, to be manager for the Twin Cities market replacing Mark Eckerline, who retired at the end of April, according to people familiar with the move.
The complex, which includes seven offices and 150 brokers, was being overseen on an interim basis by Shawn Allen.
Lawrence, who had been running the St. Louis market since 2017, according to a local news report, started at Merrill in 2000 as a financial advisor, according to his LinkedIn profile. He moved into a role in training in 2005 also worked in branch and complex management roles in Flower Mound, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and in New Mexico before moving to St. Louis, according to LinkedIn.
He did not return a request for comment at the Minneapolis branch. Merrill has not named a replacement for the St. Louis complex role, the people said.
Merrill, like Morgan Stanley, has been shuffling managers to fill empty branch and complex manager seats across the nation as veterans leave or are deployed strategically to new positions. Among the openings are positions in Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, Dallas, Albany, N.Y. and Jacksonville, Fla.