Merrill Manager and Colleague in L.A. Break Away
Amir Monsefi left a 44-advisor office he had previously managed for Merrill Lynch two weeks ago because of his conviction that he can offer a wider range of advice and services at better rates to his wealthy clients as an independent registered investment adviser.
They had produced around $1.4 million in annual revenue from around $360 million in client assets, said Monsefi, noting that the Century City office is among Merrill’s largest overseen by a producing branch manager.
“We want to advise clients on everything, not just stocks and bonds or what is available on a Merrill platform,” he said, noting that many of their 120 household clients have significant assets outside of the firm and its Bank of America parent. “We want to completely advise clients on actual real estate and other investments.”
A spokesperson at Merrill said Mark Ventresco replaced Monsefi as resident director of the Century City branch in May. Monsefi stepped down from the role in March to give the firm time to find a replacement and to devote more time to setting up the RIA, he said.
Jenny Chu, a third advisor who was on Monsefi’s team and has 22 years of experience, remains at Merrill, according to her BrokerCheck and the team’s former website.
Monsefi, who began his brokerage career in 1993 at Smith Barney Shearson, is also eager to shift pricing plans from conventional asset-based models. Aire has launched with a fee-for-service model that the advisor says makes much more transparent to clients what they are paying for 401(k) advice, real estate valuations and other services and will be less expensive for them in the long run.
“Doing this flat fee structure has really resonated with clients,” he said.
Like other former brokers who have broken away to run independent advisory practices, he said he also looks forward to having more autonomy in the way he markets to prospects and communicates with clients. Merrill, like its competitors, restricted his preference for client seminars, allowing him to address a limited number of pre-approved topics.
Aire, which is regulated by the state of California and has chosen Fidelity Investments as custodian for its client assets, will soon offer a six-session seminar to educate children of his wealthy clients, Monsefi said.
He and Nassir self-financed their transition without taking out loans, he said.
Monsefi and Nassir, who have dropped their brokerage licenses, both worked for more than a decade near the start of their careers at discount brokerage firms Kennedy, Cabot and TD Ameritrade, according to their BrokerCheck histories.