Former UBS West Coast Manager Meraz Joins Merrill
Ronald J. Meraz, a longtime UBS Wealth Management USA manager, has returned to Merrill Lynch to oversee its Palo Alto, Calif, branch complex, a Merrill spokeswoman confirmed.
He has moved north for the Merrill post, where he will be in charge of about 80 advisors, the spokeswoman said.
Meraz, who began his career in 1992 at Merrill before joining UBS in December 2008, did not return a call for comment. UBS has been reorganizing its field management, and Meraz’s oversight responsibilities shifted in December.
Michael Goldfader, another manager who had been running UBS’s West Los Angeles offices, also left in the reorganization and last month joined Wells Fargo Advisors.
Merrill has been far less active than wirehouse competitors Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells in recruiting, but has been moving veteran managers and hiring others to fill gaps.
UBS in recent months has revved up recruiting after a three-year pullback and the net departure of scores of advisors. It hired a $16.7 million team of Merrill “private banking” advisors in North Carolina in January, and also has had success recruiting managers from wirehouse rivals to help fill empty desks. It has upped its deals for top producers to as high as 200% of their trailing 12-month production, according to one recruiter.
In California, UBS has hired three Morgan Stanley managers in recent weeks.
They include Justin Frame, who had been running Morgan Staney’s largest California branch in Irvine. He is expected to arrive at UBS after a garden leave to take Meraz’ job managing five offices in the Los Angeles-Orange County market.
“Justin embodies humble leadership and is excited to build relationships at UBS and springboard his experience to lead growth,” UBS West Division Director Jennifer Povlitz wrote in an internal memo to managers.
In April, Mitch Markley left Morgan Stanley to run UBS’s Rockies Mountain market, according to a separate memo from Povlitz. He had been managing a San Diego-area complex at his former firm. And at the end of March, UBS hired Joshua Breeden, a producing manager for Morgan Stanley in Santa Cruz, to run its Walnut Creek office.
Merrill Lynch Wealth President Andy Sieg has reinforced the Bank of America unit’s strategy of rewarding managers for retention and increasing advisors’ net new assets and accounts over hiring from competitors. Merrill managers in Boston and Atlanta left in recent weeks to take posts with Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan Securities, respectively.