First Republic Lands Another “Mega”-Merrill PBIG Team
Ring out another chime for First Republic’s private wealth group and a funereal knell for Merrill Lynch’s.
The broker team of Jeff Schottenstein and Stuart Wechsler, who produced $11 million of fees and commission in the past year from Merrill clients with some $1.5 billion in their accounts, left their private banking and investment group (PBIG) offices on Friday for the smaller bank, sources at both companies confirmed.
Neither San Francisco-based Schottenstein nor Greenwich, Conn.-based Wechsler could be reached for comment at First Republic or on their personal phones.
The lift-out of the prosperous team continues First Republic’s aggressive spurt of recruiting over the past 18 months from larger rivals, with the bulk coming from Merrill PBIG offices in California. The Merrill-to-First Republic highway also has been travelled in New York, where the smaller wealth firm landed an $11-million team of PBIG brokers led by Larry Rothenberg and Shaun Van Vliet last January.
They and brokers such as Hank Holland, Kevin Barnes and James Marchetti in San Francisco and Danielle Ambrose and Diane Hirschorn in Los Angeles, have been attracted by First Republic’s narrow focus on wealthy clients and by fat signing bonuses that are no longer available at cost-conscious wirehouses, according to recruiters.
Merrill Lynch’s decision to at least temporarily remain in the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, which allows brokers to join signatory firms with rudimentary customer-contact information, undoubtedly came as a relief to the San Francisco-based bank. Morgan Stanley and UBS Financial Services, which has also provided some First Republic fodder, recently left the pact.
A spokesman for First Republic, which was owned by Merrill from 2007 until 2009, when Bank of America spun it out, declined to comment on strategy or particular hires.
Robert Thornton, president of First Republic Private Wealth Management and of its broker-dealer, was not available to comment, the spokesman said.
Schottenstein and Wechsler, whose team includes two “investment analysts” and two “private wealth associates,” focus on “CEOs and executives of public companies, private business owners, entrepreneurs” and other families whose wealth derives from technology, private equity, venture capital and real estate businesses, according to their Merrill website.
Schottenstein has spent his 22-year career as a broker with two firms, starting in 1995 at Montgomery Securities and successor firms NationsBanc Securities and Thomas Weisel Partners until leaving for Merrill in October 2002, according to his BrokerCheck history.
Wechsler similarly worked at Thomas Weisel since 1999 before leaving in 2002 for Merrill. He began his 20-year career as a registered rep with Sanford C. Bernstein and J.P. Morgan Securities, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Neither of the brokers have disclosures on the regulatory database.
A spokeswoman at Merrill did not respond to a request for comment about the departures.