Rockefeller Nabs $1.3-Bln-Asset Morgan Stanley Team in Atlanta
Michael Merlin, who has spent his 21-year brokerage career with Morgan Stanley and its Smith Barney predecessor, left with his 11-person team on Friday to join Rockefeller Capital Management’s burgeoning office of wirehouse transplants in the city.
Merlin, who works with about 200 client households holding about $1.3 billion of assets, according to the Barron’s ranking, did not return messages for comment on his decision. A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed the team’s departure.
The hire brings to 15 the number of teams Rockefeller has added since expanding three years ago from a multi-family-office to a broader wealth management firm under the leadership of former Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch executive Greg Fleming.
The Merlin group is the third to join Rockefeller in Atlanta, following the December 2018 arrival a $13-million, two-advisor team from UBS and the January 2019 hires from Merrill Lynch of two teams with more than $15 million combined in fees and commissions.
Merlin, who is in his mid-40s, worked at Morgan Stanley’s Buckhead complex that had once been managed by Michael Outlaw, who left the wirehouse after two decades in August 2018 to join Rockefeller (in November 2018). The executive, who also ran Morgan Stanley’s private wealth group in the Southeast, was waiting for non-solicit agreements to clear before reaching into his former firm, sources said.
Rockefeller pitches its marquee name, boutique feel and flexibility to prospects wary about its ability to fulfill its ambitions—together with upfront signing bonuses that can reach two times top producers’ trailing-12-month production in return for forgivable-loan promissory notes that tie them in for about seven to 14 years, according to recruiters. High-production teams such as Merlin’s are at the longer end of the scale, said a person familiar with his arrangement.
The adviser, who graduated from Northwestern University in 1997, joined Smith Barney in 1998 after a short stint as a corporate finance analyst at Bank of America, according to his former Morgan Stanley web biography and his LinkedIn profile. He was named an executive director in 2012, and rose to become the Hansberger team’s second named partner before a spit in mid-2018, according to sources and indications from the social media biography.
Merlin, who is active in Jewish philanthropies and was a former board member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, was recognized as a Morgan Stanley Chairman’s Club member in 2018, according to his former firm biography.
Abramson and Athanas began their 12-year and 32-year brokerage careers, respectively, at Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers.