Tag Archive for: Merrill Lynch

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 RepublicBank.com. 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 https://www.thegershmangroup.com. 

First Republic on a Shopping Spree

We all know the story of David and Goliath, in the world of finance, we’re observing the story play out routinely as boutique firms continue to capture some of the biggest wealth management teams away from the big guys, and at that, primarily from Merrill Lynch. Just this year, First Republic has moved 10 teams averaging between $3M-$15M in team production which is the 4th consecutive year of monster moves.

How are they doing it? The answer is 3-fold. 1) premiere teams at Merrill are unhappy with big bureaucratic firm culture (or lack thereof) asking them to do business in a manner that goes against what made them successful in the first place. Big mistake.

2) FRB has a very competitive, high-touch, platform offering the same and more products and services than ML. 3) For the right fit, FRB lures teams with the highest on-record terms upwards of 400% along with direct referrals to private banking customers. At First Republic as of Sept. 30, 2022, the firm is managing $249.5 billion in assets and growing dramatically. 

Two More Top Teams Leave Merrill for First Republic

To put a point on it, two more large teams have just left Merrill for First Republic. NYC based VK Wealth Management, led by Laszlo (Paul) Vasady-Koracs, a 21-year veteran who was just on the Forbes 2022 list of the Best Wealth Management Advisors, has left with his entire team for First Republic. Mr. Vasady-Koracs joined Merrill in 2017 but clearly, the big firm couldn’t compare with what First Republic could offer his team including Jay Goldstein, Christian Martinez, Dana Shaker, and Sean Hanigan. So goodbye to you Merrill from a $7 million dollar team that managed $900 million in assets. 

Of course, this team was not alone in the needing to leave sentiment. Just weeks ago First Republic Bank’s landed a huge Merrill team that had been generating over $12 million in revenue in the wealthy suburbs outside NYC.

The group, which had overseen $2 billion in client assets, is led by Harold “Hal” Reinstein and Michael T. Nelson and joined First Republic’s Scarsdale, New York branch from a Merrill office in nearby White Plains, they moved along with three other advisors–Daniel Sirota, Pascale Hainline and Kimberly Ferry–and four support staff. As testimony to the point, Reinstein had been with Merrill for the last 26 years, according to and  Nelson was a 23-year Merrill lifer.

The question remains, will Andy Sieg at Merrill decide to alter course, relying solely on a big brand BOA name, or will decisions be made to stop what is not just bleeding, but rather hemorrhaging?  Roger Gershman, CEO of The Gershman Group, who is familiar with both teams and has recruited heavily to First Republic stated that, “stupid is as stupid does, you’d think Andy Sieg would be thinking twice about gutting Merrill of its best practices that have made the firm what it is, but this just isn’t so. We’re seeing a lot of curiosity and forecast more and more moves closing out 2022 and into 2023.”

So why doesn’t First Republic buy Merrill in whole? Because they don’t have to and only picking off the cream of the cream advisors. 

Curious about all the moves and what might be right for your team? Check out our deal section and let us know if anything looks interesting.


UBS Cleans Merrill’s Clock

The Merrill Lynch Herd continues to head for greener pastures as two large teams depart to UBS. 

The story line has become a constant refrain as we continue to watch top wealth management teams leave Merrill Lynch in droves, literally three significant teams since September 23rd have announced their departure from the firm. Does Andy Sieg really care? Probably not as the departures represent the ethos Sieg’s management team created within wealth management at Merrill Lynch (oh I meant Merrill), abandoning what made them great in years of old. This time it is the departures of Washington DC based Slater, King & Fitzenreiter, and the New York City based Murray, Peeler & Dipaola Group, both finding a new home at UBS. 

Roger Gershman, familiar with the team/s and the UBS deals remarked, “the groups got yet another phenomenal deal with yet a different firm, UBS this time, a clear mandate that the Merrill Lynch wealth management model is no longer serving its best teams with the client service expectation teams desire to deliver to clients.” He added, “UBS is offering the only deal on Wall Street where it is 100% guaranteed with frontends and backends since there are ZERO hurdles. Hurdles of course are a mandated ‘fill or kill’ and won’t get paid so, in this market, can greatly impact advisors who transition in today’s volatile market.”

The $15 Million/$2.8 Billion Slater, King, Fitzenreiter & Murphy Group is led by Managing Director, William Slater, a multi-year recipient of the Barron’s List of America’s Top 1,200 Advisors by State.

The $7 Million Murray, Peeler & Dipaola Group six-person team is led by Senior Vice Presidents, Peter Murray (24 years at ML) and David Peeler (11 years at ML), and Senior Retirement Plan Consultant, Andrew Dipaola (13 years at ML). Other members of the team are: Joe DeLasho (4 years at ML), Senior Wealth Strategy Associate, Jane Ward, Client Service Specialist, and Drew Hanff, Client Service Specialist.  

The Gershman Group specializes in Merrill Lynch team transitions since 

the family business used to be the biggest recruiter in the country for ML PBIG and has many relationships with some of the biggest teams in the country. Gershman quotes, “we create a bidding war amongst all the banks against each other and let the biggest buyer (and best fit) win.”

(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. 

“It’s a Spigot Here”- Billions Flow Out of ML This Week

You know the old saying on Wall Street “the trend is your friend?’’ Well, that is certainly the trend at Merrill/BOA. Or should we call it when it was, Merrill Lynch which was the envy of Wall Street for decades? Now it’s down to just Merrill/BOA, and then minimized down to just Merrill, a BOA company/division, and predictably will just be Bank of America alone. It’s no wonder why one resident director manager source who we spoke with on condition of anonymity “it’s a spigot here”.Even managers are now looking to exit.

Consider Roshan Ghaznavi, who also was a resident director joined UBS yesterday morning. He started at ML in 2008 and has been Resident Director of the Woodland Hills office doing $4.3M in revenues on $600M AUM. He was also part of the AGM advisory counsel at Merrill and was well respected within the group and by his colleagues at the firm. He is joined by his junior partner Matt Seukunian and 2 client associates.

Adding to the exits at Merrill, Brian Coatoam also left earlier this week. He was producing $3.6M on $560M moved to RBC from the Winter Park/Orlando area.

“Advisors from Merrill are being heavily sought after by all firms including many independent platforms,” says Roger Gershman, a recruiter who specializes in Merrill Lynch teams.
According to several of our sources of industry professionals, many advisors at Merrill are just fed up with what is clearly a major cultural shift and a different means of doing business than they have been accustomed to. A spokesperson at Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment.

“We are fielding a good amount of unsolicited calls from advisors who also care to receive top dollar for their practice and platform is best for their clients whether a bank or complete independence. “

Firms seem to be offering bigger money to ML teams than other firms with some aggressively increasing their offers for the last half of 2022. Advisors are taking notice and using this to their advantage to achieve the highest economics ever seen.

“The writing is on the wall” says another advisor in the search to exit imminently.

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.

Merrill Concocts Feeble Recruiting Strategy (but only if you’re a bank broker)

Let’s play with a little math, shall we? In the past 90 months, Merrill Lynch has lost $230B in client assets due to advisor attrition. Yes, that’s billion with a ‘B’.In 4 1/2 years, based on publicly available data, Merrill has lost the equivalent of 230 billion dollar teams. That is incredible. It’s almost unfathomable.

Their completion at UBS, Morgan Stanley, Rockefeller, and even Stifel have feasted on Merrill lifers now for years. And the eatin’ has been good.

So what is Merrill leadership’s current response? A just rolled out to the field memo, that will compensate market managers to recruit advisors with LOS’ under 12 years that hail from the likes of banks and credit unions. Banks and credit unions. Seriously.“It is difficult to put into words the lack of brand loyalty that no longer exists at Merrill Lynch amongst the remaining advisors and teams. I’d estimate that more than half of large team movement in the industry is coming from one firm – Merrill Lynch. In my thirty years in the business as an advisor and recruiter, I’ve never seen anything like it.” – Roger Gershman, CEO of wealth management recruiting firm The Gershman Group.

Each weekend there is another announcement of a large Merrill team migrating elsewhere. It’s become the one constant in an industry that’s been booming for nearly a decade now.

The only ‘bust’ that anyone can find in this section of the financial world is the once proudest brand on the street: Merrill (formerly known as Merrill Lynch).

ML Fired Arrested Advisor in Connecticut

James Iannazzo was arrested for hurling a drink at a smoothie shop employee in an expletive-laced rant captured on a TikTok video (watch below).

On a TikTok video taken in a Robeks store in Fairfield on Saturday, James Iannazzo, 48, yelled, “F—-ing stupid, f—-ing ignorant high school kids.”

Iannazzo, a Merrill Lynch employee since 1995, was enraged that day after his nut-allergic son went into life-threatening anaphylactic shock after drinking a drink from the store, resulting in the 17-year-old hospitalization.

The video shows Iannazzo standing at the store’s counter, demanding to know who made his son’s drink. It also shows him refusing to leave when workers said they didn’t know, and after they repeatedly requested him to leave due to his behavior.

He exclaimed, “I want to speak to the f—-ing person who made this drink!”

Iannazzo was charged with “intimidation based on bigotry or bias in the second degree, second-degree breach of peace, and first-degree criminal trespass” after turning himself in on Saturday. On February 7, he is scheduled to appear in Bridgeport Superior Court.

“He deeply regrets his actions and acted completely out of character,” Iannazzo’s lawyer Frank Riccio said in a statement.

Merrill Lynch fired Iannazzo on Sunday after learning of the TikTok video, which has over 2.6 million views since being shared on Twitter.

“This type of behavior is not tolerated by our company,” Merrill Lynch spokesman Bill Halldin said.

“We investigated right away and took action.” “This individual is no longer employed at our firm,” Haldin said, referring to Bank of America’s investment and wealth management division.

BREAKING: ML Loses High Profile $1.7B NYC Team to First Republic

The Thundering Herd continues its exodus out the door with one of the most high-profile teams in the nation. As the very first landmark departures in the 1st week of 2022, The Hirsch Stabile Group overseeing over $1.75BB in client balances and $8.2M in revenue suggests there is much more to come out of Merrill.

Adam Hirsch and Stephen Stabile were not only highly recognized as one of the youngest fastest-growing “Under 40” teams (see below) but also recognized in Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisors 2021 list for the 3rd consecutive year (Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” February 2019, January 2020, February 2021). In addition, Stephen Stabile joined Merrill Lynch Wealth management in 2004 and was a member of and keynote speaker for the Merrill Lynch Optimal Practice Management Faculty where he provided training for the firm’s advisors nationally. He also was on a select committee of key teams nationally that actively engaged with Andy Seig regarding strategy to re-build culture, retain talent, and further the interests of advisors practices.

Roger Gershman CEO of The Gershman Group was instrumental in their search for a culture that matched the team’s desire to be part of a boutique firm with a more sophisticated approach to wealth management, opportunity to grow, and the end client user experience to be much more high touch. Gershman says, “First Republic Bank is a world-class bank whose reputation is nothing less than outstanding among its commercial lending clients allowing advisors to be fed significant referrals for growth.” Not only is its platform robust rivaling most any wirehouse, but the service is also demonstrably better. The economic deal packages happen to be more than icing on the cake. Gershman says, “the deal packages offered to the ‘right team’ does not compare to most anything offered in our industry.”

Also, Adam Hirsch who joined Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in 2006 has earned multiple recognition awards including:
*Financial Planning’s “Top 40 Advisors Under 40” List January 2021.
*On Wall Street –“Top 40 Under 40″ January 2020.
*Forbes “Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” July 2019 and July 2020.
*Forbes “Best-in-State Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” in September 2019.

The move displays how deep the level of frustration with Merrill/ Bank of America’s direction and the changing culture there. Quotes one confidential sourced advisor, “the firm caters to the lowest common denominator advisor.” He says, “it is no longer Mother Merrill that nurtured me and my business and now it’s only the BOA shareholders who see me as just another number.”