Rockefeller Hires 45-Year Merrill Broker in Dallas, NY/Cleveland Team from Morgan Stanley
Rockefeller Capital Management on Friday reached again into its wirehouse competitors, hiring a Merrill Lynch team in Dallas with more than $4 million of annual production and two brokers from a New York/Cleveland team at Morgan Stanley producing just under $4 million.
The team produced just over $4 million of fees and commissions in the previous 12 months on about $500 million of customer assets, according to people familiar with its business.
Alexander moved just days after Merrill unveiled an enhanced program aimed at encouraging successful older brokers to enlist in a retirement program that would keep their assets in-house, and also raised eyebrows because of his longevity and prominence at the firm.
“This is a huge win for Rockefeller,” said Robert A. Johnson, a former Merrill manager in Dallas who now runs Stifel Nicolaus’ Southwest region.
The Alexander team’s book is concentrated among very wealthy investors, including people who trace their wealth to the oil and gas and technology sectors, two people familiar with their book said.
Rockefeller on Friday also wooed two Morgan Stanley advisors from a team based jointly in New York City and a Cleveland suburb, together with a client associate.
Michael Zweig and Steven Cohen produced just under $4 million of fees and commissions in the previous 12 months from clients who keep about $450 million of assets with the firm, said one of the sources.
They will be based in Rockefeller Capital’s headquarters in New York City, although Morgan Stanley lists Zweig as leading a team in the Cleveland suburb of Pepper Pike. Cohen was always based in New York, while two other Cleveland-based teammates—Phillip Irvin and Charles Brennan—remain at the wirehouse, said a person answering their phones on Friday. Client associate Amanda Rodman also joined Rockefeller.
Friday’s hires bring to 15 the number of teams that have joined Rockefeller since it began expanding almost two years ago from a “multi-family-office” enterprise to a broader wealth management operation. Founded more than a century ago to manage the fortune of the Standard Oil founders, it is now majority owned by Viking Capital, a private-equity firm, and led by Greg Fleming, a former top executive at Merrill and Morgan Stanley.
The firm pitches its marquee name, boutique feel and flexibility—together with signing bonuses on a par but not at the top of some aggressive competitors—to combat occasional pushback about benefits such as lower pretax expense account allocations than they were receiving at wirehouses, sources said.
Michael Armondo, Merrill’s former Dallas complex manager, was key to recruiting the Alexander group, while Michael Parker—a longtime internal industry recruiter who began his career as a Merrill broker—captained the Zweig-Cohen hire, one of the sources said. Armondo and Parker joined Rockefeller earlier this year.
Rockefeller a month ago hired a UBS team in Los Angeles led by Michael P. Wallace that sources said was producing $2 million. In September, it lured former Morgan Stanley Chairman’s Club member Michael Siden, who together with partner Clifton Fink and three client associates managed about $950 million for UBS clients.
Spokespeople at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley did not respond to requests for comments on the moves.
—Mason Braswell contributed to this story.