Morgan Stanley Nabs $4.5-Mln Merrill Lifer with Stock Plan Focus
A 27-year Merrill Lynch veteran broker in Washington, D.C. who helped lead a corporate plan advisory business has bolted for Morgan Stanley, likely taking individual clients who help him generate roughly $4.5 million in annual production, according to two sources familiar with his practice.
Spokespeople for Morgan Stanley and Merrill did not respond to requests for comments.
Thomas J. Rietano, who co-lead the team called “Corporate Advisory Services” with Nelson and is a 29 year Merrill veteran, stayed behind, as did the other 10 team members, according to BrokerCheck and the group’s website. The group managed a total of $6.3 billion in assets for 85 client households as of September 2020, according to Barron’s, which ranked Rietano as one of its top 1,200 financial advisors.
Rietano, reached at his Merrill office, declined to comment.
Trevor’s father, Wayne, who spent 42 years of his 47-year career at Merrill and is listed on the team’s site, had been part of the group until he died in December 2020, according to an online obituary.
Nelson, who was also a perennial feature on the Barron’s list until 2018, will initially be focused on moving the executives from his corporate stock plan practice and then hope to gradually transfer the company plans themselves later given they likely have long-running contracts with Merrill, according to one of the sources.
Morgan Stanley has been bolstering its corporate stock plan business, part of its Workplace channel, since its 2019 purchase of stock plan software firm Solium Capital and added more fuel with its acquisition of E*Trade Financial and Barclays PLC’s stock plan administration business last year.
Morgan Stanley executives have touted the ability to convert stock plan customers to full-fledged wealth clients by sending leads to a select group of its 16,000 brokers through an algorithm that rewards those who are most successful at closing business.
The Wall Street bank’s Chief Executive James Gorman also this month touted the firm’s success in recruiting seasoned brokers noting that it was “net positive” on a weekly basis when comparing the number who have left to those joining.
“We used to have high attrition, no attraction, no technology, no E*Trade, no workplace,” Gorman said. “We figured all those out.”
The firm’s own attrition rate hovers at around 2%, down from 4% in 2015, according to a June presentation.
Merrill Lynch meanwhile has seen a steady exodus of brokers in recent years, including three multi-million dollar teams who joined on the same Friday earlier this month to join Rockefeller Capital Management in New York, Washington state and California.