Morgan Stanley Hires $7.5 Mln Merrill Private Wealth Team
Morgan Stanley Wealth Management has hired a big Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey as it adds to the list of multi-million-dollar hires from the rival wirehouse.
The team had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households who have an average net worth of $50 million, according to Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of 84 top advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter who worked with the team on their move, said that their total assets were $1.2 billion when factoring in new clients and market appreciation in the two years since Barron’s assessed their practice.
Catena, who spent all but a rookie year of his 30-year career at Merrill, did not return a request for comment on the team’s move, which happened in December, according to BrokerCheck.
Catena decided to move after his son Steven rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence began considering a succession plan for his practice, according to Diamond.
“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill–with no intention to make a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, Steven, came into the business he began to view his firm through a new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”
The move comes as Merrill is launching a new enhanced sunsetting program in November that can add an additional 75 percentage points to brokers’ payout when they agree to leave their book at the firm, but Diamond said the updated Client Transition Program was not “on Larry’s radar” after he had decided to make his move.
Steven Catena started his career at Merrill in 2016 but sojourned at Prudential Investment Management from 2017 until 2020 before rejoining, according to BrokerCheck.
Beiermeister, who works separately from a branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, started his career at Merrill in 2001, according to BrokerCheck. Fonte started her career at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment.
The group is at least the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months and appears to be the largest. It also hired a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month as well as a pair of advisors producing about $2.6 million from Merrill in Maryland.
In December, Morgan Stanley lured a solo producer in California who had won asset-growth accolades from Merrill and in October hired a 26-year Merrill lifer in a Chicago suburb who was generating more than $2 million.
Morgan Stanley aggressively re-entered the recruiting market last year after a three-year hiatus, and executives have said that for the first time in recent years it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the number of new hires offset those who left.
It ended 2020 with 15,950 advisors—482 more than 12 months earlier and 481 higher than at the end of the third quarter. Much of the increase came from the inclusion of more than 200 E*Trade advisors who work primarily from call centers, a Morgan Stanley executive said.
Merrill Lynch, which has stood by its freeze on veteran broker recruiting put in place in 2017, no longer breaks out its number of branch-based wealth management brokers from its consumer-bank-based Edge brokerage force.
(Updated to note that the team’s assets had risen to $1.2 billion.)