UBS Hauls in $1.9-Mln Merrill Team in Maine, Loses Million-Dollar NYC Producer
UBS Wealth Management has picked off a Merrill Lynch team in Portland, Maine, who had managed $400 million in customer assets, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
Micah Roberge and Shaun Hawkins left Merrill on Friday after 13 and 10 years, respectively, with the wirehouse, according to their BrokerCheck records. They moved along with a client associate, Deborah Erickson, and had generated $1.9 million in annual revenue, according to a person familiar with their practice.
Reached at their new UBS branch, Roberge said they opted for UBS because it resembled the wealth management-focused culture of the Merrill Lynch he had joined in 2007 prior to its purchase by Bank of America.
“At UBS, wealth management is the primary enterprise,” Roberge said in an interview. “At the combined firms of Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, Bank of America is the bigger enterprise.” A spokesperson for Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment. The firm has seen an exodus of larger producers that has accelerated in recent months. A Merrill team generating $5 million in annual revenue also left on Friday to join Rockefeller Capital Management in Ohio.
A Washington State-based team that produced $8.2 million in revenue on $1.6 billion in assets moved earlier last week on September 1 to Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.
Departing brokers have pointed to a number of triggers, often citing policies such as Merrill’s move in 2019 to withhold the first 3% of brokers’ production from hitting the payout grid or what they say appear to be bank-imposed compliance restrictions.
Merrill two weeks ago launched its own campaign, Project Thunder, that includes weekly announcements of policy and procedural changes aimed at easing some broker qualms. It last week, for example, said it would make it easier in some cases for brokers to do business with customers who earned money from marijuana companies.
The source with knowledge of Roberge and Hawkins’ practice said the two won internal acknowledgement from local management for their asset gathering and were among roughly 1,000 of Merrill’s brokers who qualified for a 2% bonus hurdle based on raising customer assets and liabilities and adding net new households for the three years since Merrill’s ‘growth grid’ program began.
The two also considered some other aggressively recruiting firms, including wirehouse rival Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, which like UBS has revived its hiring efforts over the past two years after a short hiatus. But they opted for UBS because it had a “strong” presence in the Portland market and some content firm veterans sold the duo on UBS’s culture.
“We continue to focus on recruiting and retaining the most client-focused and productive Financial Advisors in the industry,” Jad Dieterle, Northern New England complex manager for UBS, said in a statement.
Roberge first registered as a broker in 2004 at Citigroup’s Smith Barney and moved to Merrill in 2006, according to his BrokerCheck record.
Hawkins started at Goldman, Sachs & Co. in 1994 and also worked for stints at Morgan Stanley & Co., Susquehanna Financial Group and Dimension Brokerage before joining Merrill in 2011, according to his BrokerCheck.
In the other direction, Los Angeles-based B. Riley Financial lured a million-dollar UBS producer in New York City to its small retail brokerage unit.
Chris Michelsen, who produced $1.1 million in revenue and oversaw around $140 million in customer assets, joined B. Riley Wealth Management on Friday, according to Craig Pirtle, B. Riley’s chief strategy officer.
Michelsen started at UBS in 1999 as an institutional trader and became a broker at the company in 2012, according to a statement from B. Riley. The connection to B. Riley began about a year ago with a cold call from one of its internal recruiting managers, Gregory Troccoli, who had been reaching out to UBS brokers in New York, Pirtle said.
Michelsen was convinced ultimately by the closer attention from senior executives as one of just 175 brokers at B. Riley’s wealth business and where he would be more than double the average production, according to Pirtle.
UBS had 6,274 brokers, including several hundred in Latin America and Canada at the end of June, down a net 31 over the second quarter, according to its Swiss parent’s most recent earnings report.