Merrill Manager Turmoil Continues in Texas
Jeremy Silvas, the head of five Merrill Lynch Wealth offices in The Woodlands suburbs north of Houston, left on Thursday, opening another management hole in the company’s porous Texas Mountain South division, according to several people inside and outside of Merrill.Silvas, a 21-year brokerage veteran who joined Merrill from UBS seven-and-a-half years ago, is expected to join the employee channel of Raymond James Financial near Dallas, where his family lives, according to two sources familiar with his plans.
Silvas, who prior to taking the Woodlands post two years ago was Merrill’s Louisiana/Mississippi market executive, was frustrated with his inability to secure a higher management position amid a whirlwind of changes in the region and by his family-separating commute from north Texas, the sources said.
The manager, who oversaw about 80 advisors in The Woodlands market, according to a Merrill website, could not be reached for confirmation of his plans to join Raymond James.
Spokespeople at Raymond James and Merrill did not respond to requests for comment.
Silvas was said to have been close to Michael Armondo, the former head of Merrill’s Dallas complex, who left in May to join Rockefeller Capital Management. In February, Texas Mountain South Division head Vince Fertitta stepped down and subsequently joined an independent broker-dealer led by former Merrill Midwest division head Jim Dickson.
Merrill in March promoted California-based market executive Carole Wentz to stabilize the Texas division, a week after Michael Rogers—who ran the firm’s private bank unit in the Mountain West—resigned to join Deutsche Bank.
Wentz has been attempting to protect her region’s managerial flanks while combating broker departures. But last week Merrill transferred the head of her division’s Phoenix/Tucson market, Marcel TenBerge, to run a large San Francisco complex. Merrill at the same time shifted 22-year firm veteran Michael Ronan from market executive of its Palo Alto-based Silicon Valley group of offices to the same position in its East Bay market in Oakland and surrounding towns. Replacements for TenBerge and Ronan have not yet been named.
In August, a 46-year Merrill broker near Houston left for Wells Fargo Advisors and a team in The Woodlands bolted to open a registered investment advisory firm. In May, a team managing $571 million in another Houston suburb joined Stifel, Nicolaus. Merrill has not publicized any hires in the region, and Merrill Wealth President Andy Sieg said this summer said the freeze on expensive recruiting remains in place.
The hiring shifts have jolted some field managers at Bank of America-owned Merrill and other large firms, according to headhunters. While deemphasizing recruiting, firms are tying managers’ awards to improving broker retention, hitting asset growth goals, nurturing trainees and increasing sales of loans, mortgages and other products from their parent banks.