Morgan Stanley Drafts Merrill’s Willie Thomas for Menlo Park Post
Morgan Stanley has hired Merrill Lynch manager and former National Football League player William “Willie” Thomas to oversee a Menlo Park, California branch.
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment on the number of brokers at the Menlo Park branch, which is part of the firm’s Silicon Valley complex that specializes in corporate stock plan services.
Thomas, who was a defensive back at Penn State and also played professionally with the Seattle Seahawks before starting in Merrill’s advisor training program in 1995, could not immediately be reached for comment on the move.
He spent the first nine years of his brokerage career with the Thundering Herd, returning to the Bank of America-owned company in 2014 after more than eight years at Wells Fargo Advisors and New England Securities, according to his BrokerCheck record.
It is Thomas’ second cross-country move in as many years and will be a homecoming of sorts. He had overseen Merrill’s San Francisco market before shifting in mid-2019 to take on the Boca Tropics market.
Merrill’s Boca complex included 140 advisors who oversaw around $18.7 billion in client assets as of September 25, according to Thomas’ LinkedIn profile. The market, however, had lost at least two large teams over the past year.
A group that is led by Nelson Faro and oversaw $800 million in assets moved to Rockefeller Capital Management’s private wealth unit in January, and a group of five brokers with $1.4 billion in assets joined RBC Wealth Management-U.S. in early September.
A spokeswoman for Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment on Thomas’ departure or whether a replacement has been named.
The manager’s move comes as Merrill has been motivating its market executives to focus on promoting internal asset and household growth rather than the high-cost practice of hiring veteran brokers from its rivals. It underscored the push with a 30% cut to market executives’ cash bonus for 2020 that most severely affected those who did not meet ‘scorecard’ goals.
Thomas wrote on LinkedIn that his “primary responsibilities today include working with Financial Advisors to develop customer acquisition and retention programs and driving client centricity.”
Morgan Stanley meanwhile has revived its recruiting push after a brief retrenchment in 2017 and has been pushing managers to reel in multi-million dollar producers, including a $4.5 million team it hired from UBS Wealth Management USA in Chicago earlier this month.