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UBS continues to work through several missteps over the past few months. Those issues have been well covered on this site and in other industry publications. With that backdrop UBS pulled off a stunner today – landing the biggest Merrill Lynch PWM team in North Carolina.

Wickham Cash Partners, as they’ve been known for decades at Merrill Lynch, claims $16.7M in annual revenue and nearly $11B in client assets. Those numbers should hold up exceptionally well at the end of the year when looking back at the biggest moves in the industry. It wouldn’t surprise us if it holds up as the biggest move in the industry all year; kudos to UBS for landing a 50 year legacy founding an advisor and team.

Per media reports:

“R. Mitchell Wickham and Gregory M. Cash joined UBS with 15 other advisors and support staff, UBS said in a press release.”

“The team, which had included founder Charles L. Wickham, Mitchell’s father, had been overseeing $10.8 billion in client assets, according to a person at UBS familiar with their practice, who also provided their production number. The elder Wickham will remain until August at Merrill, where he is participating in its book-transition program.”

“More than 80% of their assets and $6 million of their revenue came from clients of Merrill’s “money manager services” business, which provides custody and clearing for retail clients of family offices and money management firms, according to two other sources. The Wickham group began their search in May 2019 after Merrill, whose parent Bank of America is based in Charlotte, said it would close MMS, which is used by a very small number of Merrill brokers, by the end of 2020.”

Well that seems just a bit odd? The teams founding partner is remaining at Merrill Lynch to finish off an asset transition program? To be fair, Charles is more than 80 years old, so we doubt he’s been serving clients on a full-time basis for a while. Clearly his son and partners manage the bulk of the stated assets here.

Selectively going after ‘teams of scale’ seems to be UBS’ recruiting objective in 2020. And Merrill remains ripe for the picking. Still, we expect both Merrill and UBS to be among the biggest net losers of advisors this year. Continued unrest in response to policy changes will send advisors elsewhere.

These type of headlines will be the norm this year, not the exception.

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