Merrill Duo with $550 Mln of Client Assets Joins RBC
(Updates with broker’s confirmation of his reasons for leaving his previous firm.)
The negative campaigning that has been dominating mid-term political campaigns appears to be having some muted echoes in the wealth management recruiting business.
RBC Wealth Management-U.S. said on Tuesday that it hired two advisors from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management who had overseen around $550 million of customer assets at Merrill’s Beverly Hills office. That’s a decent catch for the U.S. brokerage arm of Royal Bank of Canada, but the release went further with a gentle swipe at Bank of America-owned Merrill.
“After careful consideration, our team made the decision to join RBC Wealth Management because of its strong reputation of always acting in the best interests of clients,” team leader Nick Ciriello said in the press release, “as well as access to the global resources of RBC.”
RBC Wealth, which included its private banking affiliate City National in Beverly Hills, is far from the first company to allow innuendoes about competitors’ behavior toward customers and brokers to color their marketing. Raymond James Financial, for example, has allowed new recruits to subtly trash talk their former larger firms for several years.
Ciriello said he had felt constrained by account and asset growth policies that Merrill added to its broker compensation plan last year that distracted him from servicing his book of around 70 high-net-worth households, as well as by Bank of America’s efforts to have brokers sell more bank products.
The broker, who was with Merrill for 16 years and who joined RBC on October 12 with his junior partner Elizabeth Zimmer and a client service associate, was producing around $2.4 million at Merrill.
A spokeswoman at Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment on Ciriello’s remarks.
Merrill executives have previously said that the growth goals it put in place last year have sparked new enthusiasm for prospecting among its brokers, led to more client assets being brought in from other banks and will be maintained, with some tweaks, for 2019.
Ciriello started his 18-year brokerage career at Prudential Securities in 1995, according to his BrokerCheck record. He also worked for a year at J.P. Morgan Securities before returning to the brokerage industry after a four-year break in 2002 when he joined Merrill.
Zimmer began her brokerage career in 2015 at Merrill, according to BrokerCheck.
RBC, which has around 1,800 brokers overseeing $353 billion in client assets, has been an aggressive recruiter of wirehouse practices in recent years, while the larger firms have scaled back.
The company earlier this month hired Merrill broker Gordon Nearing in Palm Beach, Florida. RBC said he had been managing $232 million in client assets at his former firm.