Rockefeller Nabs Two Merrill Teams in Atlanta
(Corrects headline and story to indicate that only one of the two teams were affiliated with Merrill’s Private Banking and Investment Group.)
Rockefeller Capital Management is starting 2019 where it left off 2018: Nabbing large teams from wirehouses.
The seven-person Higgins, Hall and Associates team of Merrill Lynch’s private banking and investment group for high-net-worth investors and the eight-person Embleton Curtis Quackenbush wealth management group resigned Friday and joined the expanding Rockefeller “family office” that is now backed by private equity and run by former Morgan Stanley wealth management boss Greg Fleming.
Both teams are based in Atlanta, where Rockefeller in December landed two UBS private wealth teams overseeing about $2 billion of assets and producing $13 million of revenue.
The Merrill teams collectively have been generating between $15 million and $18 million on about $2 billion they have been managing for wealthy families, according to two people who said they were familiar with their data. The advisors could not be reached for comment late Friday.
Joining on the eve of a long holiday weekend (the markets are closed for Martin Luther King’s birthday on Monday) gives the advisors extra time to solicit their customers to follow them to Rockefeller, sources said. Merrill Lynch said in reporting earnings on Wednesday that it has been experiencing a near-record low attrition rate among experienced advisors.
According to a Barron’s ranking last year, David P. Higgins and Michael P. Hall oversaw about $1.76 billion of customer assets (with the help of four “investment analysts” and a sales associate listed on their website), although one of the sources said the number is slightly inflated. Their production was about $10 million, the source said.
John Embleton, William C. Curtis and P. Schuyler Quackenbush, Jr., with the help of fellow advisor Evan Georgiou, an analyst and three client associates, generated between $5 million and $8 million of fees and commissions from their clients in the past 12 months, the sources said.
The Merrill teams were recruited by Michael Outlaw, one source said. Outlaw is an Atlanta-based brokerage industry veteran who Fleming recruited last August to help him build a wealth management brokerage network with the help of several other Morgan Stanley executives and a recapitalization of the Rockefeller family office business by private equity firm Viking Global Investors.
Prior to recruiting the UBS teams led by Justin Ryan and Thomas Epperson just before Christmas, Fleming had supplemented the core Rockefeller family business with one advisor team, led by Nick Bapis, that had been managing $1.2 billion at HighTower Advisors.
A Merrill Lynch spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment on the departure of the PBIG teams on Friday.
Higgins has spent his entire brokerage career with Merrill, which he joined 25 years ago, served for a time as a trainer in the firm’s “Profesional Development Program” and has been a Barron’s Top 1200 broker for the last decade, according to his team biography.
Hall has similarly spent his whole career at Merrill, beginning in late 1996 in Atlanta. He served in management roles between 2004 and 2008 before returning to Atlanta as market executive there. He teamed up Higgins in 2016, according to the team biography.
Embleton began his brokerage career at Dean Witter Reynolds in 1992, moved to Smith Barney in 1994 and spent subsequent years with it and successor firm Morgan Stanley until joining Merrill in October 2008, according to his BrokerCheck history.
William C. Curtis has been a broker since 2001, beginning at Morgan Stanley and joining Merrill in late 2008. Quackenbush, the team’s third senior partner, has been a broker for 14 years, also starting with Morgan Stanley before joining Merrill in October 2008. Both he and Hall say in their company biographies that they began their careers targeting aviation industry clients.