Rockefeller Hires $4-Million Merrill Team in D.C.
(Story has been updated to say in last paragraph that one member of the Crowley team, broker Lucero Wiley Burnett, remains with Merrill.)
Rockefeller Capital Management on Friday nabbed its second wirehouse team this month, hiring a five-advisor Merrill Lynch group near Washington, DC.
Led by Kenneth Crowley and his senior partner Gehret “Gery” Shemeld, the group generated about $4 million of fees and commissions over the past 12 months on about $700 million of client assets, said two people familiar with their practice.
Rockefeller two weeks ago lured a Morgan Stanley Wealth Management team in New York City that was also producing about $4 million annually.
Crowley, who “Forbes” listed as a Best-in-State advisor in Virginia for the past two years, has spent his 19-year brokerage career with Merrill, according to his BrokerCheck history. He will move his team from Vienna, Va., to a Rockefeller office in the nation’s capital, said a person familiar with the move.
Crowley did not immediately return a call for comment.
Shemeld began his 39-year career with the now-defunct Moseley, Hallgarten, Estabrook & Weeden, and has been with Merrill and predecessor firm Banc of America Investment Services since 1998.
Rockefeller, whose roots lie in managing the financial affairs of the scions of the Standard Oil fortune, recapitalized itself last year and hired former Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch executive Greg Fleming to expand it from what had become a “multi-family wealth office” to a broader wealth management firm for wealthy individuals.
In June, Rockefeller hired an eight-person Merrill Lynch team in Dallas overseeing $703 million of customer assets and producing more than $4.5 million. In January and February, the New York-based firm recruited two teams from Merrill in Atlanta collectively producing more than $15 million in fees and commissions on about $2 billion of client assets.
Rockefeller, whose management and recruiting teams are larded with former wirehouse executives, is not offering top dollar to brokers but is capitalizing on the appeal of its gilded name to attract them and their theoretical prospects, recruiters said. Its deal can still reach a substantial 250% of trailing-12-month revenue, with 150% as an upfront forgivable loan, they said.
The Crowley team, to be sure, is only the 11th to join the private wealth group since Fleming’s arrival, and Rockefeller remains more of a gadfly than a cannon aimed at the brokerage world giants. (One of the teams arrived from Hightower Advisors, a registered investment advisor firm seeded with wirehouse brokers, and the others came directly from Merrill, UBS and Morgan Stanley.)
Fleming also is expanding Rockefeller’s benchmark family office business. That unit this week said it will buy California-based RIA firm Financial Clarity, which oversees about $2.3 billion.
Christopher Randazzo, president of the private wealth group that the Crowley team joined, has said that he aims to have 200 advisor teams overseeing $100 billion within several years. Randzazzo was a technology and wealth executive at both Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch.
With the addition of the Crowley team, Rockefeller has advisors in Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, New York and Washington.
On Thursday, J.P. Morgan Securities, opened its first office in D.C. with a four-advisor team hired from UBS Wealth Management.
A Merrill spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the Crowley team’s departure.
In addition to Crowley and Shemeld, the eight-person team includes three client sales associates and advisors Jahan Jewayni and Gunn Thongniyom, whose 15-year brokerage careers have been entirely with Merrill, and 24-year industry veteran Max Green, who joined Merrill 19 years ago, according to their BrokerCheck histories.
A fifth advisor on the team, Lucero Wiley Burnett, is remaining with Merrill in the Vienna branch.