Merrill Team Joins Stifel in Florida, UBS Broker in L.A. Shifts to Wedbush
Stifel Financial Corp. on Friday landed its second Merrill Lynch team in the Southeast this month, while Wedbush Securities hired a longtime UBS advisor and manager in its home city of Los Angeles.
Together with Brad Ripplemeyer and Hampton Ballard, the team oversaw about $935 million of client assets in fee-based advisory accounts, according to Stifel. The St. Louis-based firm’s Stifel Nicolaus brokerage unit earlier this month hired a pair of Merrill brokers in North Carolina managing just over $350 million and a UBS advisor in Atlanta.
“Our local manager contacted them but they were aware of us because of the number of Merrill folk who have been moving here over the past year,” said Chris McCray, director of Stifel’s southern region.
The approximately nine-month wooing process, which included visits by the team to St. Louis to meet Stifel’s top two executives, was slightly delayed by the coronavirus outbreak, he said, although the firm has left it up to local management as to whether to keep offices open and staffed.
Ripplemeyer had been with Merrill for eight years of his wirehouse career, which began in 2000 at Smith Barney, while Ballard began his brokerage career almost five years ago at Merrill. Their team will be housed in a new one-story building still under construction that Stifel has leased for them, according to McCray.
In Los Angeles, 30-year wirehouse veteran Howard Kern joined Wedbush Securities on Friday, about a week after leaving a UBS office in Beverly Hills. Kern, who had worked at UBS since the summer of 1997 and began his financial career with Drexel Burnham Lambert, managed a little over $150 million at UBS and has managed several branches there, according to Wedbush.
He was doing double-duty as assistant market head for several Los Angeles-area offices when he unexpectedly left this month after a “disagreement” with UBS, according to three sources. The issue was not sales- or client-related, said one of the sources, and his U-5 termination form will indicate that he left voluntarily.
In a prepared statement, Kern said Wedbush’s “entrepreneurial spirit and philosophy of working together as a partnership” were the deciding factors in his move to the firm.
Don Gorsch, head of Wedbush’s 100 retail brokerage offices, and Frank Epinger, its Los Angeles regional executive, are both UBS/PaineWebber veterans who have worked with Kern.
“Howard is very popular among the advisor ranks,” said Randy Grossblatt, a recruiter and former UBS Southwest Region director who said he helped arrange the move.
Wedbush was founded in 1955 by Ed Wedbush, who died earlier this year and whose sons are senior executives at the firm.