Merrill Fills Management Holes in L.A. and San Fran, Morgan Stanley in Boca Raton
Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley continue to fill management gaps by recirculating veterans to crucial wealth markets, with the former installing new leaders in Los Angeles and San Francisco and the latter in Palm Beach/Boca Raton, Florida.Anthony DiBlasi, who has been with Merrill for all but two months of his 23-year brokerage career, took the reins of its “flagship” West Los Angeles market in August, according to his LinkedIn profile. The six-branch complex includes some 275 employees working with more than $30 billion of customer assets in Beverly Hills, Century City and Santa Monica, it says.
He replaced Nathan Crair, who resigned in June to open an L.A. wealth management office for Rockefeller Capital Management. Merrill has not named a replacement for DiBlasi in the smaller “greater L.A.” market that he had been running for the previous 19 months.
DiBlasi, who moved into management as president of Merrill’s Washington State market in 2012 after more than a decade as a Merrill advisor in Cleveland and Las Vegas, was not available to comment, a spokeswoman said.
Merrill also is relocating Marcel TenBerge, a former European League pro basketball player who has been with the firm for 14 years of his 18-year brokerage career, from market manager of its Phoenix/Tucson branches to the same position in San Francisco, she said.
Carole Wentz, who Merrill shifted in March from running a California complex to head the Texas Mountain South division that includes TenBerge’s Arizona domain, told advisers this week that she is working on finding his replacement, sources said.
TenBerge’s San Francisco post, which does not include oversight of Merrill’s Silicon Valley branches, has been open since June when Willie Thomas, a former Seattle Seahawks back, was deployed to oversee Merrill’s Boca Raton ”Tropics” market in Florida.
Separately, Morgan Stanley told advisors at its six-branch Palm Beach/Boca Raton complex this week that it was dispatching Richard D. Donovan to be their new boss. Donovan, a 36-year industry veteran who joined Morgan Stanley predecessor Smith Barney in 2001, had been running the wirehouse’s Florham Park, New Jersey, complex.
Donovan replaced Tim Byrnes, a 21-year Morgan Stanley veteran who was shifted last month from Florida to manage a Pennsylvania complex. Donovan’s position in New Jersey has not been filled.
Wirehouses face growing challenges in retaining managers and developing new bench strength because they are de-emphasizing recruiting as a core performance metric, said some recruiters, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Firms’ increased emphasis on improving broker retention rates, avoiding compliance issues and proselytizing for centralized investment management and bank product sales is hard for some veterans to adapt to, they said.
That makes firms more reliant on loyalists who are willing to plug holes in important markets.
Merrill earlier this summer shifted two managers to fill vacancies in southern Florida and Dallas, Texas, branch complexes.
Morgan Stanley in February sent veteran New York City manager Frank Novello to Florida to oversee a 60-broker sub-complex in Boca Raton (where he kept a second home), while Eduardo “Eddie” Ortea, manager of the Boca/Technology Way branch under Novello, stepped down from his post in July.