Merrill Shakes Up Managers in Private Wealth and New York City Complex
(Updated with information about Colavita’s new role.)
In another sign of the strains on wirehouses in finding managers to carry out shifting strategies, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has reassigned managing directors overseeing its private wealth advisors in New York City and Atlanta and a flagship branch in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the moves.
In the private wealth business (formerly known as Private Banking and Investment Group), Mollie Colavita has relinquished her role as regional managing director in “metro New York,” and Michael Nies his position as southeast regional managing director, sources said.
Colavita and Sullivan have worked at Merrill for their entire brokerage careers of 26 and 33 years, working their ways up from starting positions as an analyst and client associate, respectively, according to their LinkedIn profiles. Nies has spent 11 of his 19-year career with the Thundering Herd, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Sullivan has left the firm, according to a Merrill spokesman who also confirmed Simonds’ new role.
Nies declined to comment, and Colavita did not return a call. A Merrill spokeswoman confirmed that they have assumed new roles.
Colavita is now head of private wealth services, overseeing “wealth strategists” who develop financial plans for wealthy clients, and the firm’s family office services unit and the Center for Family Wealth, according to a spokeswoman.
Her private wealth territory that includes four New York City branches will be overseen by Gregory M. McGauley, who continues as head of the private wealth unit’s Boston-based Northeast region. When Merrill reorganized its private wealth management team two years ago, McGauley—whose region includes advisors to the very wealthy in upstate New York, some mid-Atlantic states and other parts of New England—was also put in charge of a new Strategic Wealth Advisory Services that includes management of the wealth strategists. It is unclear if Colavita is assuming that role.
Nies has been reassigned as market manager of five Merrill Lynch Wealth branches in Atlanta.
Sullivan began his brokerage career at Merrill in 1986, working his way up quickly from sales associate and advisor to branch management positions in Pennsylvania, Indiana, California and New Jersey. He assumed the reins of the 225 Liberty/2 World Financial Center branch in late 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile
Colavita joined Merrill Lynch in 1993, with the Penn State University alumni credential boasted by Merrill Lynch Wealth Management President Andy Sieg and many other former Merrill executives. She has run training for advisors and co-headed its Global Wealth leadership development group before taking on the private wealth regional manager role in 2011, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Simonds joined Merrill nine-and-a-half years ago from Morgan Stanley after a career that began in 1993 with Lehman Brothers and successor firm Smith Barney, according to his BrokerCheck history. In addressing the approximately 120 advisors at the SD office on Tuesday morning, Merrill Wealth regional head Bill Lorenz credited Simonds with rapidly expanding the Rockefeller Center office’s advisor population and revenue, according to a source.
Merrill over the past year has shifted branch and complex managers frequently to fill gaps left by departing executives, and its parent, Bank of America, has for several years asked some managers to do double duty as regional heads of both consumer and wealth banking in various markets. Merrill’s wealth management shifts, which have also occurred at rivals Morgan Stanley and UBS as managers have adjusted from primary roles as recruiters to promoters of advisory account and loan growth policies, have been prominent in the Southwest, California and Florida.