Phil Scott, $18-Million Merrill Superstar, Joins First Republic
Phil Scott, who rose to the top of Merrill Lynch’s production ladder over 35 years with the firm, led his 11-person team on Tuesday to First Republic in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue, Washington.
Scott had been generating around $18 million of fees and commissions on $2.7 billion in client assets, according to a person familiar with his move and his practice.
Scott could not immediately be reached for comment.
He runs “aggressive” but effective strategies, two other sources said, that have catapulted him to Barron’s Top 100 list of advisors for the past five years. (Scott also has accumulated seven customer disputes on his BrokerCheck record since 2001, including one that resulted in an award of $1.1 million.)
San Francisco-based First Republic, a now-publicly traded bank that was once owned by Merrill Lynch, has been tapping Merrill consistently for wealth management talent as it expands from private banking into broader wealth services.
John P. Ver Bockel and Maureen Raihle, a $10-million team who each were with Merrill for more than 30 years, joined the bank last fall in Palm Beach, Florida.
First Republic also has been nabbing private wealth strategic talent from its rival. Stacy Allred, a popular behavioral strategist at Merrill’s private wealth unit, switched to First Republic last month. Chris Wolfe, the former chief investment officer of Merrill’s private banking and investment group, joined in 2016.
A Merrill spokesperson did not return a request for comment on Scott’s departure.
Scott, who ranked #44 on Barron’s Top 50 Private Wealth teams this year, joined Merrill in 1984 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, according to his team’s former website. (John Schork, an investment analyst on Scott’s team since 1998, also is an Annapolis veteran.)
Scott directs a “proprietary investment program with a long-term track record,” according to his Merrill biography.
Merrill has experienced a steady trickle of departures of senior advisors in recent years as it adopted more stringent policies on managing advisory accounts, imposed carrot-and-stick payout programs to promote asset and account growth and, like many of its competitors, encouraged brokers to sell loans and make referrals to its bank parent.
Bank of America no longer reports the number of Merrill Wealth advisors, making it difficult to track net gains and losses, but instead amalgamates traditional advisors with bank-based Merrill Edge brokers and private bank advisors.
Merrill executives have retreated from recruiting experienced advisors from competitors, replenishing its ranks instead with early-career advisors. The executives also have asserted that attrition was at historically low levels, even before constraints imposed by the coronavirus crisis.
Scott’s BrokerCheck history notes his comments that he did not contribute to any settlements or arbitrations over customer complaints and that he denied wrongdoing.
The most recent allegation occurred in 2016 from a customer seeking $825,000 for unsuitable investment recommendations. The complaint settled for $125,000. Another for unspecified damages over similar allegations settled for $337,500 in 2013. Two similar allegations in 2010 and 2009 resulted in arbitration awards of $872,000 and $880,000.
The $1.1 million settlement of a $2.5 million unsuitability claim came from a customer invested in “blue chip” and dividend growth portfolios who divested “unsolicited” as the portfolios were “recovering strongly” after the lows of the 2008-2009 financial crisis, according to Scott’s BrokerCheck comments.