Stifel Opens Texas Office with Merrill Pair Producing $1.2 Million
Stifel Financial has hired two lifelong Merrill Lynch advisors in the south Texas city of McAllen, according to a spokesman at the St. Louis-based firm.
The office is the fifth opened in Texas in the past year with Merrill emigrants, according to Stifel regional director Bob Johnson, who himself made the move in 2018 after 21 years at the wirehouse.
Abbott said he reached out to Johnson soon after former colleague Bart A. Reese moved his $3.4 million team in Houston last May to Stifel. He was motivated in part by the personal management attention he expects at the smaller firm and his expectations of greater autonomy in running his practice.
“I feel like it’s the way Merrill Lynch used to be before Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch,” he said, mentioning the personal attention he received during a dinner with Stifel Co-President James Zemlyak during the wooing process. “This is a traditional brokerage.”
A Merrill spokeswoman did not return a request for comment.
Stifel’s Texas brokerage count has grown by about two dozen Merrill-trained brokers producing around $27 million and managing $5 billion in assets in the past year, said Johnson, emphasizing that the pitch is not the deal but the culture. The broker-centric pitch, similar to one that Raymond James has championed in small as well as large markets, is targeted at brokers who dislike the growing pressure at wirehouses to sell loans and bank services.
“We don’t have a rich deal,” Johnson said. “They just want to be able to handle clients without someone pushing stuff.”
Bank of America no longer breaks out net gains and losses within Merrill Lynch’s core wealth and private bank group of brokers. As of June 30, 2019, the last time it reported its Thundering Herd count, those units had 14,690 brokers, down 130 from a year earlier.
The wirehouse has turned from recruiting experienced advisors to hiring relative newcomers from regional firms, seeding its branches with Bank of America-trained Merrill Edge brokers and revamping its internal training program to replenish its sales force.
The bank now reports a consolidated advisor number that includes Merrill Edge brokers who work within bank branches and call centers. The total force as of yearend was 17,458 wealth advisors, down 60 from December 31, 2018, Bank of America said in its fourth-quarter earnings release.
Stifel in 2019 hired a net 76 brokers (150 gross), ending the year with 2,222 brokers, it said last week.