Ultra-High-Net-Worth Strategists Bolt Merrill, JP Morgan for First Republic and Wells
Stacy Allred, who helped Merrill Lynch’s top advisors counsel clients on the psychological and practical challenges of handling their fortunes, has left her senior post after almost two decades at the firm to join First Republic Bank.
Allred, head of the Merrill Center for Family Wealth that private wealth brokers promote as a value-added frill for “ultra-high-net-worth” clients, joined First Republic Investment Management on July 1, according to her BrokerCheck record. The high-profile consultant, who frequently spoke on family wealth topics at universities and professional meetings, retains her managing director title and continues to be based in Seattle, according to her LinkedIn profile.
Allred could not be reached for comment on her shift to the San Francisco-based bank, which has a long history of relationships with Merrill Lynch. Merrill briefly owned First Republic, purchasing it in 2007 for about $1.8 billion before it was dealt back to an investment group including the bank’s founders in 2009.
“She was beloved in PBIG,” said a former regional manager in Merrill’s private wealth business that was formerly known as the Private Banking & Investment Group. The manager spoke on condition of anonymity.
Allred joined Merrill Lynch in 1999 after working as a financial planning and tax service consultant at Ernst & Young LLP for nine years.
Fast-growing First Republic has been adding recruiters, wealth consultants and advisors from Merrill and other wirehouses in an attempt to build its brokerage force. Chris Wolfe, the former head of Merrill Private Wealth’s chief investment office, former Merrill PBIG manager Brian Riley spent about four years leading West Coast recruiting at First Republic and UBS Wealth Management USA recruiting executive Albert Leshinsky joined First Republic in March to support advisors on the East Coast. Last year a $16-million Merrill producer, Arif Ahmed, led his 10-person team to the San Francisco-based bank.
Merrill briefly owned First Republic, purchasing it in 2007 for about $1.8 billion before it was dealt back to an investment group including the bank’s founders in 2009 by Bank of America during the financial crisis. First Republic went public in 2010, five months after the private equity-backed buyout, and Merrill was a lead underwriter of the IPO.
Another former Merrill specialist in probing the psychological underpinnings of the wealthy also has transitioned to a new firm. Wells Fargo & Co. said Monday that it hired Michael Liersch, a Ph.D. who was Merrill’s first head of “behavioral finance and goal-based consulting,” to run advice and growth strategies for Wells’ private wealth unit.
Liersch, who developed an investment personality assessment tool to help Merrill advisors “initiate more compelling discussions with clients” about the intent of their wealth, worked for the past two years at J.P. Morgan Chase as head of wealth planning and advice.
At Wells, he will join longtime J.P. Morgan brokerage and retail banking executive Barry Sommers, who is joining the San Francisco-based bank this summer to run its wealth and investment management division. The division includes some 14,000 brokers as well as the private bankers who Liersch will service at the bank’s Abbot Downing family office and private bank offices. Before joining Merrill in 2012, Liersch led behavioral finance at Barclays Wealth Americas, which was led by former Merrill executives.
On the advisor front, Andrew C. Hahn, who spent the past 13-years of his 17-year career with Merrill in Towson, Md., went independent on Friday by joining Seventy2 Capital Wealth Management. The Bethesda-based Seventy2 Capital works with about 17 advisors in five offices who are licensed through Wells Fargo Advisors’ Financial Network for independent brokers.
Hahn, who began his brokerage career at UBS Wealth Management USA, was managing $60 million of customer assets at Merrill, according to Tom Fautrel, a former Merrill and Morgan Stanley advisor who co-founded Seventy2 Capital.