Sanctuary Hires $435-Mln Merrill Team, Snowden Lures Another from Retirement
(Updated with additional detail and comment from Snowden’s Chief Executive.)
Independent broker-dealer Sanctuary Wealth Partners said it has hired a Merrill Lynch team in Marion, Ohio, while New York-based hybrid RIA Snowden Lane said it wooed a former billion-dollar Merrill broker out of retirement.
The group also includes three associates, including Lars’ father, David Olson, who earlier retired from Merrill Lynch. They moved on Friday, according to BrokerCheck.
“We’re excited to welcome Lars Olson, who I’ve known for some time, and his partners at Alluvial Private Wealth, who are the first of many teams we expect to join Sanctuary this year,” said Jim Dickson, a former Merrill divisional manager who launched Sanctuary Wealth in 2018.
Olson was not available for comment, according to a person answering the phone at his Alluvial office outside of Columbus. A Sanctuary spokeswoman said the timing of his move was motivated in part by Merrill’s decision to consolidate its Marion, Ohio, office.
Olson had been one of two teams working Merrill’s Marion branch, which Merrill is closing as it opens a new office half-an-hour away.
“We remain committed to serving clients in the Marion area,” a Bank of America spokeswoman said.
Olson’s practice is the 42nd to affiliate with Sanctuary since its founding, according to the Sanctuary, which has around $12 billion in client assets under management.
Sanctuary in November sold a 55% stake in exchange for a $50 million investment from European asset manager Azimut Group. Dickson said previously that the firm will use around $12 million to pay down debt and use the rest for recruiting, buying minority stakes in smaller firms and updating its technology.
Around 30 of Sanctuary’s partner firms have equity in the broader enterprise and will begin to be able to sell some of their shares in 2023 after a lock-up, he said.
Separately, Snowden Lane, a New York-based hybrid broker-dealer and registered investment advisory firm, said it lured a former Merrill star out of retirement in Wilmington, Delaware.
Cynthia Hewitt, who retired from Merrill Lynch in 2018 after 42 years, registered with Snowden in August, but officially started with the firm January 11, according to Snowden’s Chief Executive, Rob Mooney.
Hewitt had been one of the first woman advisors at Merrill when she joined and was leading a seven-person team that was managing $1.4 billion in assets and generating over $7.5 million in revenue by the time she retired, according to Snowden’s announcement.
Hewitt, who knew Snowden’s leadership team from her time at Merrill, had approached them about returning to the industry, according to Chief Executive Rob Mooney.
“What motivated her was a desire to work with clients again. She really missed that,” Mooney, who was formerly general counsel at Merrill, said in an interview.
All of her “obligations” to Merrill relating to her participation in its retirement program had “concluded,” he said. The firm, which is raising payouts on its Client Transition Program this year, offers senior brokers a multiple of their annual revenue paid out over several years once they agree to leave their clients with the firm and exit the industry.
Hewitt could not immediately be reached for additional comment.
“When I realized I still wanted to work with clients, I knew that the independent model was the right one, and Snowden Lane was immediately on my radar,” Hewitt said in the release.
Snowden was founded in 2011 by former Merrill brokerage head Lyle LaMothe along with Mooney and former Merrill divisional manager Greg Franks.
The firm, which has $6.3 billion in client assets and 52 advisors, is majority owned by private equity firm Estancia Capital and also has backing from turnkey asset management platform Brinker Capital, according to its ADV.
In December, Snowden added another Merrill Lynch team led by Bill Markel, Michael Schmatz, and Michael Kreuzer. The group, which also includes two client associates, had been managing $500 million in client assets in Buffalo, New York, and marked Snowden’s 12th office.