Merrill Can’t Stop the Bleeding – Another $3 Billion Gone in the First 3 Weeks of 2023

The deal with bloodletting is that it is supposed to cure a problem, is that what Andy Sieg thinks he’s doing? After massive AUM and revenue losses in 2022, Sieg is starting the year off with a bang with another $3 billion gone in just the first few weeks of 2023. I’m sure the podcast with Mindy helped.

The teams. David Mohamed and Justin Merola from Wellesley Hills, MA took their $8 million in revenue to First Republic Bank, perhaps the direct bank referrals are not only useful but lucrative. Alex Ladage, David Landon Smith, and Jorge Garcia in Austin, TX moved their $7.5 million in revenue and $900 million in AUM to Rockefeller Capital Management. Mark Karstaedt, Daniel Zomback, and Raymond Lin of New York, NY moved $2 million in revenue and $400 million in AUM to JP Morgan Advisors. Jeffrey Klinger and Bradley Quinn in San Francisco, CA moved $7 million in revenue and $1 billion in AUM to UBS. While two of these moves are still too big financial firms, what is clear is that the exodus at Merill just won’t stop – no matter where it is to.

Roger Gershman of the Gershman Group worked with Mr. Klinger at Credit Suisse, he stated “Jeff is a top-notch advisor, Merrill should be ashamed to put pressure on the best advisors to leave for other shops.  Best of luck to all the teams leaving Merrill.”

As we’ve covered extensively, advisors are leaving Merrill in droves for a number of reasons from grid and bonus cuts to creepy culture, to pushing products the bank wants sold, to playing to the lowest common denominator with firm established model portfolios. If advisors don’t fit the model, the firm wants them out and has made it downright impossible for many to continue their practice in the way they see fit. It will be interesting to watch the numbers to see just how much Merrill will lose in 2023. Any guesses?

The “Candid” Interview You Wish You Heard

A few days ago Mindy Diamond hosted a “candid” interview with Andy Sieg, The President of Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In that interview many were disappointed with the questions asked and more importantly the answers. In this episode we answer without bias – understanding what the firm is actually going through as we speak with many advisors, managers and those close to the situation.

Roger Gershman is the CEO of The Gershman Group and has a wealth of experience in financial advising and asset management. Roger brings a unique advantage to the world of financial services recruiting. Having spent twenty-five years himself as a financial advisor at Hambrecht & Quist, UBS PWM, and Credit Suisse, Mr. Gershman brings a unique perspective to the recruiting and consulting world of financial advisors. He has built profound relationships through the generations and has fostered deep relationships with his clients on both the broker and management sides. He upholds the reputation of The Gershman Group by continuing to provide valuable consultation and advice to transitioning financial advisors.


Originally published on:


0:00 Intro

0:24 Why Would Andy Speak With A Recruiter?

1:29 Is He The Culture Bearer of ML?

3:18 Ultimate Culture Degradation

5:30 Why FAs Are Leaving? 7: 57 The Model is Broken

11:10 The Shift to Private Banking

14:32 End of Entrepreneurship

15:08 Why Restart Recruiting?

17:36 “Join a Team!”

20:33 What ML Advisors Can Expect?

22:38 It’s Your Clients (.)

23:26 Closing Remarks

First Republic Starts 2023 with a Bang

First Republic has just signed three big-name wealth management teams to its roster in one week’s time to kick off 2023. First, an $11 million in revenue/$1.8 AUM BNY Mellon Boston-based team led by Brenda Travaglini, Michael Corcoran, Dennis Murray, and Dan Gallagher along with three staffers. All four with substantial years under their belt with BNY, Travaglini with 37 years, Corcoran with 34 years, and Murray and Gallagher each with 20 years at the firm. To leave the firm with this many years of service and a salary plus bonus must have been for something special as we’ll get to in a moment.

The second move, is a four-person Morgan Stanley team led by Eric Yamin with 35 years in the business, and Keith Caparelli with 10 years. The $7 million revenue/$ 700 million in AUM team serves clients in New York and Florida. The third movement, the $8 million Wellesley Hills, Massachusetts-based Mohamed-Merola Wealth Management team left Merrill Lynch also for First Republic. Derek Mohammed and Justin Merola each had been at Merrill for 7 years and previously were both at UBS and Morgan Stanley respectively.

Roger Gershman of the Gershman Group, familiar with the teams stated, “First Republic is undeniably a great consideration for advisors on the coasts serving the UHNW client with private banking needs (including direct referrals), the extremely competitive compensation plan is clearly luring advisors to the firm, one after another.”

What is behind these moves and First Republic’s ability to now have amassed 200 top advisors representing over $195 billion in AUM? In 2022 alone, First Republic recruited $12 billion in new AUM.

The upside?

One, First Republic is a premier private bank with pristine UHNW relationships. The bank has been able to negotiate the banking – wealth management relationship well. Some might see this as a negative if they want to be separated from the pressures that come with a bank, some view it as a positive.

Two, the First Republic model allows some freedom and is more entrepreneurial in nature than the firms advisors are leaving yet it isn’t a “go it alone” setup for advisors who don’t want to establish their own RIA firms.

Three, the bicoastal footprint of First Republic works for advisors serving clients in those areas, it might not serve advisors well in the rest of the country.

Andy Sieg is Begging Advisors to Leave Merrill

As if this year wasn’t hard enough on advisors at BOA/Merrill with one of the worst years in the markets in a generation. Between the bond market and the equity markets, clients’ assets are down across the board by at least 10% and upwards of 25%. Naturally, production numbers are steady going down month after month equally too. And so too is it harder to maintain client relationships let alone bring on new ones to maintain payouts.

What a perfect time to raise production, raise growth such as new client relationship hurdles for advisors while also trimming pay on brokerage transactions! Andy is raising the bar at precisely the wrong time and essentially is saying, take it or leave Merrill (it).

Roger Gershman, who runs a boutique consulting firm and who specializes in Merrill Lynch teams says “advisors are outraged and this is the straw that really breaks the camel’s back.” Gershman laid out the net key takeaways.

  • Produce 5-7% or more to maintain the same grid payouts as last year
  • Advisors must bring in 4 (net new) clients from 3 to avoid a 100 basis-point cut to payouts
  • Advisors must target 6 (net new) households to add a 100 basis point to achieve a payout bonus
  • Cutting Brokerage Commissions from 5% to 25% for trading, bonds, stocks depending on the portion of client assets in brokerage accounts
  • Maintaining a 100 Basis Point reduction for advisors who do not grow by at least 2.5% (net new) assets

In rolling out the plan, Andy Sieg tried to sell the modifications to the salesforce as a “balanced” plan that will be overall net neutral considering adding back the 3% payout reduction which was stolen two years ago. Says an anonymous advisor the only “balance” in this plan will be for the BOA balance sheet and its shareholders.

Sieg also told advisors the Regulation Best Interest Rule has “introduced much higher scrutiny” of brokerage transactions and that commission business is a disproportionately higher source of litigation than advisory. Another ML advisor tells us, “So advisors get hit with upwards of a 25% hit only to save the firm litigation costs?”

Gershman says, “Seig is essentially telling ML advisors to take a long walk down a short plank

“Most Anywhere is Better Than Staying at Merrill” – Advisors flee ML to Rock, FRB, Sanctuary

Yes, its that bad. Advisors across the land are fed up with the bureaucracy, the overbearing compliance, and becoming ‘just another number’ at Bank of America. Advisors at ML seem to have an abundance of choice from big banks to boutiques, to Independence.

Roger Gershman, who runs a boutique consulting firm and who specializes in Merrill Lynch teams says, “the premium valuations of ML teams we are seeing are literally 20-30% more than the average.” Gershman referenced a few recent team moves as example. 

The Maxwell Group, a $9M/$2B+ The Woodlands, Texas-based team left Merrill Lynch (we still call it ML cause it should be) and landed at The Rockefeller Family Office Group  

Rockefeller Global Family Office Group.  Managing Director Kyle Maxwell serves as a PM focused on Alts, building, and implementing custom equity and commodity derivative strategies. VP Shawna Alexander joined too who was once a pro golfer and now  holds a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) designation and focuses on pre-divorce wealth management planning. 

The ARA Group, a 9-person, $6.5M+ SF based team left Merrill Lynch for www.First SVP Ted Rice is a founder of the ARA Group. At ML since 2007, Ted holds the (CIMA®) designation. FVP Nasser Abdulkariem joined Merrill in 2007 and specializes in corporate benefit programs. SVP Gregory Steven Argyres joined Merrill in 2007 and holds a CFP® and CRPC®. SVP Timothy Argyres joined Merrill in 2007 after time spent and holds a CFP® and CRPC®. 

But it is the mass exodus to independence seems to be a major theme amongst Merrill Lynch advisors. Says one anonymous advisor, “The compliance here has become so overwhelming that I literally spend 50% of my time filling out these stupid approval forms only to be rejected that they weren’t filled out correctly!” The consultant Gershman says BOA/Merrill has become a bad combination of a law firm and a compliance firm which is essentially run by FINRA. “On the RIA side the SEC dictates rules, treats advisors as adults, and compliance is a tiny fraction of anything these advisors are used to,” says Gershman.

As example, Heinrichs, Behling & Associates group, a 4-person WI based, pro-athlete focused team left Merrill Lynch for Sanctuary Wealth. Sanctuary is run by former Snr. Execs at ML who support the transition of traditional advisors into a turnkey RIA firm. The group was led by two long time ML advisors, Terry Heinrichs with 26 years at the firm and Ryan Behling with 16 years at the firm. 

When asked about the move, the team stated they are free from compliance, felt they needed a better solution of service and investment options instead of playing to the lowest common denominator at ML. 

Curious about all the moves and what might be right for your team? For over fifty years, The Gershman Group has served financial advisors considering and making business moves., and serving clients throughout the States, the team works with the upmost confidentiality to assess your platform and your needs, and can assist you in making moves swiftly. Free consultations are offered, so if interested and to learn more, contact The Gershman Group at (628) 500-7770 or at 

The Wells Fargo Wagon – Now a Ferrari

Wells has just planted a monster flag in Manhattan with their new modern offices in Hudson Yards, cementing its foothold in the PWM space by acquiring one of the largest teams in the nation from UBS PWM.  Founded by brothers Andrew and Todd Perry, a 14-member team is said to be generating $20M on $5B in assets under management. Andrew’s 35-year career originally began at Salomon Brothers before co-founding the Perry Group at Merrill Lynch in 1998 with Todd. In 2002 Andrew and Todd became Managing Directors at Deutsche Bank before then joining UBS in 2008.

This is not the Wells most advisors think they believe it is. Damaged severely by the 2008 scandal and subsequently losing almost 4,000 advisors, the firm has taken well over a decade to completely revamp senior leadership, almost every product group, down to most every manager in the field. Wells is an undervalued story and if you look underneath the hood you may realize this is a firm that will allow advisors’ businesses to flourish. 

Barry Sommers, former head of JPM Private Bank and Securities, and now the new Head of Wealth Management at Wells has totally streamlined the many disparate businesses, including getting rid of all the salary/bonus private bankers and allowing traditional private client advisors to help manage and grow the massive relationships of the private bank, the commercial bank, and the investment bank. 

This is in direct opposite of how the JPMorgan Private Bank operates with their JPM Securities division and also the direct opposite of what is now happening at BOA with their Merrill division. 

This is a conscious decision from top leadership to be either a Private Bank or Brokerage Firm. Seemingly, Wells is copying First Republic Bank where the Commercial lending book of clients was handed to financial advisors to build upon these relationships and grow massive books. Wells’ balance sheet dwarfs FRB’s, which dominates the jumbo mortgage market with about 70% market share in CA and almost 40% nationally. Apparently, Wells pays an average of 1% recurring rev for almost every type of loan an advisor places which is an unheard-of commission.

Most big firms have PWM divisions like ML PBIG, MS PWM, and UBS PWM.  The architect behind ML PBIG over 30 years ago was a legend in the business, named Jim Hayes, who created the identical division within Wells PWM Platform. Those early pioneer advisors who join this boutique PWM within Wells stand to reap huge referrals.  They’re essentially looking to direct more UHNW referrals to their incentivized PWM Financial Advisors and dramatically increase their investment banking and commercial banking referrals from $9 B to $25B a year – no inflation needed here.  

The new CEO, Charlie Scharf, has  solidified executive leadership who is a Jamie Dimon protégé and proven leader at VISA and BNY Mellon, who is a Board member of Microsoft and importantly, whose father was a financial advisor. This new leadership team demonstrates a new culture from the very top that positively flows all the way down the ladder all across the nation.

Trust me, this wagon isn’t slowing down, if you want to hitch on do it while the opportunity is here.

The Perry Team is the tip of the iceberg of aggressively recruiting the biggest and most top talented advisors in the country, offering  some of the largest transition packages we have ever seen in the business. A recruiter source tells us, “no firm comes close to their massive Upfronts, Backends, Deferred Matches, GRID payouts and Retirement packages. I’m astounded by the deals I’ve been able to negotiate and just shows how committed this firm is to recruiting.”

Finally, if an advisor cares to eventually transition to Independence, Wells is one the world’s largest custodians with about 50 BD’s allowing advisors a very smooth, no papering of clients, transitions with a 90%+ 1099 payouts. No firm has this offering.

The sleeping giant has woken and morphed into a recruiting powerhouse.

(Yet Another) Merrill Exit – This Time $15M in NY

Merrill Lynch seems to be playing an ugly game of “Taureau, Taureau” with its top wealth management teams and financial advisors. Adapt to the new strident culture or don’t. It’s too bad that the strength of the bull that Merrill has been known for has its best people running for better brighter horizons. The departure of White Plains, NY-based Reinstein Nelson Group for First Republic is yet another important departure of a highly regarded and awarded team. 

Roger Gershman, familiar with the team remarked, “the Reinstein Nelson Group got a phenomenal deal with First Republic as we watch the stampede out of Merrill Lynch. Maybe Merrill will wake up and begin to understand how important culture and those that have served the firm for years over years are, or not. First Republic clearly cares about talent and culture, not to mention high touch service. The returned focus on banking at Merrill isn’t paying off.”

The nine-person team had been with Merrill since 1998 and is led by Managing Directors, Harold Reinstein and Michael Nelson who’ve been chosen by Forbes as the “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” for 2018, 2019, and 2020. Other members of the team are: Daniel Sirota, Senior Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor, Pascale Hainline, Senior Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor, Kimberly Ann Ferry, Senior Vice President and Senior Financial Advisor, Mary Jane Wolfson, Assistant Vice President and Investment Management Specialist, Amanda McNulty, Senior Wealth Management Client Associate, Oleg Zubarev, Wealth Management Client Associate, and Erika Jenkins, Wealth Management Client Associate. 

Throughout the years advisors on the team have been recognized by: 

  • Barron’s Top 100 Financial Advisors
  • Financial Times 400 Top Financial Advisors
  • Financial Times 401 Top Retirement Advisors
  • Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisors
  • Forbes SHOOK Best-in-State Next Generation Wealth Advisors
  • And more…

Perhaps First Republic will allow the team to continue to execute on the high client service model their clients have come to expect. 

Merrill Lynch Advisors Trust The Gershman Group To Handle Their Transition

As a years-long exodus from Merrill Lynch seems to continue unabated, one recruiting firm has emerged as a leader amongst those seeking to find greener pastures across the wealth management landscape: The Gershman Group.

By the numbers, more than $200B in client assets have migrated away from Bank of America and Merrill Lynch in the past few years. As long-tenured advisors managing those assets seek to find firms that meet their clients’ needs, they’ve routinely turned to one company to manage that process on their behalf.

The Gershman Group, with over 50 years of wealth advisory recruiting. As a family company, Norman Gershman founded the firm after a 25-year career at Merrill Lynch.

“Our goal is never to urge a team to leave their current firm as the first option but only as a Plan B. An evaluation of their current firm is an important part of the process.” Says Roger Gershman, the firm’s CEO who, like his dad, spent 25 years as an advisor at prestigious firms like Hambrecht & Quist and UBS PWM.

“The wealth management landscape is rife with ‘top of the market’ opportunities for advisors of scale at large banks, boutiques, and independence. I spend much of my day answering many similar questions:

  • Why did they leave?
  • What was the economic package?
  • Bank vs Boutique vs Independent?

Not only are we seeing record economic structures but successful transitions of 80% of assets or more within literally 45-60 days vs the old days of 6-9 months or longer.” says Roger Gershman.

Quotes a former ML Advisor: “TGG was extremely knowledgable about my choices of platforms and helped me negotiate the highest possible deal.”

Their history as a family company within wealth management is unique and has engendered trust amongst Merrill Lynch advisors for decades. Advisors have come to see The Gershman Group as a bespoke organization that makes connections at every touchpoint in a potential transition: confidential concierge private meetings; deal construction; platform due diligence; legal contract language; and even negotiating banking referrals baked into deals.

“What we have found is that when advisors question BOA’s dedication to Merrill’s traditional advisor-centric culture, they reach out to us for an objective opinion about what is really going on there. Exploring other competitive platforms and having a Plan B is a healthy exercise that may just offer a better supportive working environment for them, their families and certainly for the better interests of their clients ” – Roger Gershman.

Sponsored by The Gershman Group

The original release can be found here.

Merrill Lynch’s Andy Sieg Whistles Past The Graveyard On Advisor Recruiting

There really should be memes created in honor of Andy Sieg. If there was ever a bigger corporate shill for a brand now owned by its banking overlord – it’s Mr. Sieg.

Up is down, down is up. Night is day, day is night. And the best part is, he’s so committed to the messaging that nobody other than his bosses believes.

A quick reminder that all the biggest teams and producers at legacy Merrill have been pulling the escape hatch for half of a decade now. Over and over and over again. Nearly $250B in client assets have left the firm in the past five years.

But Andy thinks that big recruiting deals are poppycock and should be frowned upon to the benefit of nameless, faceless shareholders.“We are seeing very elevated multiples for advisers as they are being recruited firm to firm,” Sieg said at the RBC Capital Markets Financial Institutions Conference. “When we see some of the levels of competitive recruiting deals, it’s very challenging that they’re going to produce threshold returns for shareholders.”This kind of inane commentary infuriates the best advisors that are left at the firm. And the thousands upon thousands of bank brokers and rookies that are replacing them are pre-programmed to fall in line.

Get out of Merrill and go get paid. Andy Sieg doesn’t care about you.

COVID Mandates Infuriate Advisors; Big Banks Aren’t Actually ‘Following The Science’

COVID-19 quickly became a politically charged topic as it found its way into every corner of our lives. We aren’t here to talk politics, but rather the realities faced by advisors and unnecessary mandates being enforced at their places of employment.

At different firms across Wall Street, there are varying degrees of mandates and penalties for advisors that have chosen not to get the proverbial ‘jab’ for whatever reason. On top of those arbitrary rules, you also have firms forcing advisors to spend certain amounts of time in the office, no matter if it is meaningful to their business and growth.

A quick list of what advisors are dealing with in regards to COVID-19:1. If you are unvaccinated you could be fired. (**since been backed off of)
2. If you are unvaccinated you are disallowed to meet in person with clients.
3. If you are vaccinated, you have to be in the office a minimum of three days per week.
4. Vaccination status may indirectly affect bonuses and promotions.

Each of the above responses to COVID-19 is dramatic overreaches that don’t match even the latest (flawed) CDC guidelines.I think that one could make the case that these guidelines are coming from bank legal departments rather than directly connected to any sort of science. And, as per usual, the mandates are putting undue burdens on advisors unnecessarily.

We continue to hear significantly grumbling from advisors with respect to not just a new normal here – but rather banks and brokerages taking advantage of a crisis to control advisors. Given that the very nature of being a financial advisor is largely entrepreneurial, the likes of J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch (Bank of America) should back off.