Another Team with a $600-Mln-Plus Book Leaves Merrill in Greenville, SC
A five-person Greenville, South Carolina team, led by two Merrill Lynch lifers, left the wirehouse for Raymond James & Associates on September 29, according to their new firm’s website and BrokerCheck records.
Their departure follows a handful of 2021 broker exits from the same Merrill office in Greenville, a town with a population under 70,000 located in the northwestern corner of the state.
The most recent departures include lifers Benjamin Clauss, who began at Merrill in 1998 and William Douglas Ellison, who began at the firm in 1994. They moved along with a third advisor, Brad Larue, who started in the industry at Merrill in 2018, and two client associates, Amanda Wood and Cathy Logan.
The team had at Merrill about $618 million in client assets, according to Barron’s, which put Clauss on its nationwide top 1,200 advisor roster for 2021.
Spokespeople at Raymond James and Merrill did not respond to requests for comment. Clauss and Ellison, the two team leaders, also did not return emails seeking comment.
The Greenville office currently has around 20 brokers, excluding the Clauss team, according to its website. At least six others have left since the start of the year, according to a tally of publicly announced moves and review of earlier versions of the branch website.
In April, a four-broker team left to launch an independent practice affiliated with LPL Financial’s fledgling Strategic Wealth Services model for wirehouse breakaways.
The group, which is called NorthEnd Private Wealth, includes William Joshua (Josh) Brown, Scott Thompson, Joel Gray and James “Jake” Cluverius, Jr., had managed $650 million in client assets at Merrill, according to an LPL announcement at the time.
In two other previously unreported moves in April, Jonathan Hungerford, an 18-year broker, and John R. Ross, who had 17 years of experience, left for Wells Fargo Advisors’ independent Financial Network brokerage, according to BrokerCheck. Neither Hungerford nor Ross responded to requests sent through social media about the move or their practice.
Louis Diamond, an industry recruiter in Morristown, New Jersey, who placed the NorthEnd team, said that often in relatively smaller markets, one team’s big departure can spur some additional attrition.
“We do see this happen in smaller markets where advisors see a cornerstone team leave and all of the sudden their ears begin to perk up thinking that they must be missing something if a top team headed for the exit,” Diamond wrote.
Raymond James Financial has been ramping up its recruiting efforts with sweetened recruiting bonuses for teams joining its employee channel. It also last week plucked two Merrill teams in Texas as it looked to usher in prospects before the close of its 2020 fiscal year on September 30.