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Rockefeller was a net winner in recruiting and brand reputation in 2019. Drama free and very selective with their hires (money center cities, large AUM base, annual revenue of scale), Rockefeller pushed into the spotlight throughout most of last year.

That has continued in 2020 as they’ve already started with a huge hire – stealing away on of the biggest teams in all of Atlanta, via a recruiting source on Friday:

“Rockefeller Capital acquires The Merlin Wealth Management team from Morgan Stanley in Atlanta. Michael Merlin leaves Morgan after 10 years with over a decade spent at Citigroup prior to joining Morgan. The team’s production was approximately $8 million, managing approximately $2 billion in assets. This is yet another great acquisition for Rockefeller Capital.”
Rockefeller put together several deals like this in 2019 and has made it a clear and central part of their business plan moving forward. It is reminiscent of the early days of HighTower, albeit with a more clear cut and traditional grid and employee based acquisition structure. Still, the similarities are out there.The Merlin Wealth Management Group declined to comment on their transition, but via recruiting contacts familiar with the firm they were “run down by the bureaucracy of Morgan Stanley and its ever growing complexity and lack of responsiveness to team needs, juxtaposed against the protocol exit.”

That response and feedback doesn’t surprise – and could be mapped over just about any exit from a traditional wirehouse these days. Teams want deeper – whether legally real or perceived – control of their practice on a daily and long term basis. The scale and exclusivity of Rockefeller seems to give the folks at the Merlin Group just that… so they hit the bid.

As a bit of a  teaser, we expect several more of these high level announcements to be coming from Rockefeller over the next several weeks. Stay tuned.

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