Merrill Loses $2.8-Mln Producer to UBS, $2-Mln Team to Independence
Merrill Lynch has lost a $2.8 million advisor in Louisiana to UBS Wealth Management USA and a $2 million producer in New Jersey who joined with Raymond James Financial’s independent broker channel after 18 years.
Tucker and two associates who moved with him had been generating $2.8 million in fees and commissions on $422 million in client assets, according to a person familiar with his practice.
The advisor, who ranked as a managing director at Merrill and who began his brokerage career 20 years ago at Metlife Securities, did not return a request for comment.
In Wayne, NJ, three advisors left Merrill to launch an independent practice affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services. Led by Michael Topinka, 43, who had worked at Merrill’s Upper Montclair office since June 2002, the team also includes Carl Boomhower, 27. and Daniel Tyburski, 36, both of whom are advisors, and a client associate.
They generated about $2 million in the 12 months prior to their December 3 move, Topinka said, and worked with about $350 million in client assets.
Topinka said he had become increasingly frustrated with Merrill’s push to have advisors cross-sell loans and other products of its parent Bank of America to investment clients and by its imposition of annual account-growth targets tied to compensation payouts.
The changes began gradually after BofA bought Merrill in 2009 in the wake of the financial crisis, but have accelerated in the past three years as the broker has been squeezing revenue from advisors through formulaic methods, Topinka said.
“I’m playing a life-long football game and two-thirds of the way through you throw me a basketball,” he said.
His former partner David Hollenberg made similar complaints last year when he left Merrill after 24 years to join RBC Wealth Management.
Topinka, who worked at the start of his career at firms subsequently expelled from the securities industry, said his move to independence will offer much more autonomy on how to run his practice than those that have employee models (such as RBC). The flexibility even extends to determining whether to meet personally with clients amid the pandemic and to go into their office, he said.
A spokesman for Merrill Lynch did not return a request for comment on Topinka’s remarks.
Complaints about cross-selling bank parent products and services are not unique to Merrrill advisors, but some of those who have left say its growth goals and strictures appear to have accelerated because of its pullback from hiring experienced advisors with substantial books of business.
Rivals Morgan Stanley and UBS also had been on recruiting budgets for more than three years, but each has recently returned to building client assets through hiring from rivals.
UBS last week disclosed the arrival of a $7.5 million team in Philadelphia from Goldman Sachs and two weeks ago recruited a $7.1 million producer in La Jolla, CA, from Bernstein Private Wealth Management.
Morgan Stanley last week hired a 33-year old Merrill broker in California who had won accolades for his growth achievements, capping an aggressive effort of recruiting from wirehouse rivals throughout the pandemic.