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In a move similar to June 2021 when Merrill Lynch lost three teams to Rockefeller Capital Management worth $12 million in revenue, three teams departed once again prior to the 3-day weekend, taking over $15 million in revenue with them. The seven brokers who left represented 134 years of combined experience with Merrill.

The largest team departing Merrill was the Jones Connolly Group based in Florida, producers of $10.4 million, managing $2.5 billion in assets. The team will open a new office in Orlando; advisors are Garrett M. Jones (21 years at ML), Sean P. Connolly (13 years at ML), Gregory H. Pollock, and Phillip T. Dobbs along with seven support staff. Mr. Jones and Mr. Connolly have been frequently recognized on the Forbes “Best in State” advisors list. 

The other team moves included Trent Cowles; a $2.7 million producer based in Indianapolis who’d had a 30-year run at Merrill. Mr. Cowles manages $450 million in assets and moves along with two support staff. Paul Leach, based in El Segundo, California took his $2.4 million trailing to Rockefeller as well after 15 years with the firm. 

Lastly, after 12 years at Merrill, Len Mangiaracina, a $3.1M/$400M  SVP who has a very sophisticated CIMA-based practice in North Bethesda, Maryland, departed for Morgan Stanley. He was recruited by Brandon Wiggins who is a rising star at Morgan Stanley, who has taken a sophisticated approach to recruiting and growing a major presence in his region. 

Rockefeller has 91 private wealth management teams under the leadership of ex-Morgan Stanley President Greg Fleming. Why the move under this timing? Even though advisor’s might have missed a vesting of restricted stock units’ moment at Merrill, the 3-day President’s weekend allows them more time to contact customers in the transition while former colleagues are out of the office presumably. Over the last five years, Merrill’s focus has been on hiring newbie recruits without experience whilst pressuring seasoned advisors to adapt to the shifting agenda and culture under Andy Sieg or be out. 

On the question of attrition out of Merrill in January, Andy Sieg stated, “half of those who have left in recent years have been serial career movers while others have left because they could not handle compliance requirements or for offers that defy any rational economic analysis.” Of course, this isn’t true and is Mr. Sieg just blowing more steam not truth. 

If Merrill advisors were not that successful in moving their assets, then these firms would not be raising their offers. The packages teams are receiving in the moves are extraordinary, thus forgoing a potential payout is worth it.

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