Merrill Teams Managing Almost $1 Billion Exit for Raymond James, Morgan Stanley
Two teams at Merrill Lynch that collectively managed about $1 billion in client assets bolted to Raymond James and Morgan Stanley in the past week.
In Chapel Hill, N.C., Morgan Stanley on Wednesday hired Mark Raymond Brackett, James B Sessoms and Victor Bruno, who were generating $1.5 million in trailing-12 production on about $250 million in client assets at Merrill Lynch, according to a source who claimed familiarity with their book of business.
They were a timely hire for Morgan Stanley, which on Thursday lost a team in its Chapel Hill branch that was managing $680 million in client assets to Stifel, Nicolaus. They were generating $5 million in trailing-12 production at Morgan Stanley, according to a source who claimed familiarity with their book of business.
Led by Michael Berard, a Forbes’ 2020 Best-in-State adviser, the new Stifel team also includes brothers Richard and Frank Dworsky, Vanessa Haythorn, David Bomar and four support staff. They are opening Stifel’s 13th office in the state of North Carolina, the St. Louis-based firm said.
“Following extensive due diligence, our group decided that Stifel offered the client-centric approach and platform more consistent with our team’s focus on fundamental planning and investing,” Berard said in a prepared statement.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed the Tarheel State hires and departures, but declined to comment further. Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said on an earnings call Thursday that its wealth division’s net recruiting statistics have “materially improved,” and another executive asserted that the firm retains 50% of client assets of advisors who leave.
Florida-based Raymond James, meanwhile, continued its recruiting march northward last week by hiring a six-person team from Merrill to open a new employee channel branch in Burlington, Mass., northwest of Boston.
Led by senior vice presidents Eric Hobin and Jiles L. Robinson—who had been with Merrill and predecessor Bank of America-based brokerage firms for 15 and 18 years respectively—the team also includes vice president Antonio Sordillio, associate vice president Jason Whittier and two client associates, according to their new website.
According to a Forbes ranking, the team as of last September was managing $699 million of client assets, a metric that presumably includes the book of 31-year industry veteran Robert J. Kostigen, the sole advisor on the team who stayed at the Merrill branch in Burlington.
“Over the past several years, it’s become apparent that to preserve our way of doing business, we needed a fresh start with the firm whose principles and core values align with ours and yours,” Hobin said in a video informing clients of the move and apologizing for not having been able to preannounce their plans.
In a brief phone interview, he declined to elaborate on the move or the team’s metrics.
“We are leaving Merrill Lynch after decades of combined years at the firm,” Sordillo, who ranked on Forbes’ 2019 Next Gen list of top Massachusetts, said in the video. “This decision was not made lightly, and we look forward to sharing with you all of our reasons for the change.”
The team was hired by Bill Drew, a former Morgan Stanley complex manager in Boston who Raymond James hired last year to build its branch network in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, according to a well-placed source.
A Raymond James spokeswoman declined to comment on the hires from Merrill.
A Merrill Lynch spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the departures.
The Bank of America-owned brokerage firm more than two years ago retreated from recruiting experienced brokers.
Attrition of experienced advisors at Merrill is at a “historically low’’ annualized level of 2.4%, a Merrill executive said on Thursday after the firm reported that revenue fell 10% during the second quarter.