Veteran Wirehouse Executive Mulholland Joins Board of Independent Firm
Robert Mulholland, a longtime top field manager at Merrill Lynch and UBS Wealth Management USA, has joined the board of Steward Partners, an independent firm associated with Raymond James Financial.
“A lot of them are looking to take their business and move it to a channel where they can be their own boss, so to speak, without having the dictates of products or changes in compensation and other things,” he said.
Mulholland left UBS early in 2016, a firm he joined to lead out of the doldrums of the financial crisis and which he left fighting to repair a Puerto Rico franchise tainted by aggressive sales of the near-bankrupt territory’s muni bonds and bond funds. (In December 2018, Mulholland lost a breach-of-contract arbitration claim in which he sought $13.6 million from UBS.)
At Steward, a 122-advisor firm founded in 2013, Mulholland expects to be actively involved in recruiting now that his contractual “obligations” to former employers have expired. He said he was persuaded to join the board by Doug Kentfield, a longtime Smith Barney/Morgan Stanley division head and close friend who joined Steward in October to run its brokerage operations.
Former Smith Barney Chief Executive Charles D. Johnston joined Steward’s 12-person board in 2018, and helped introduce it to The Cynosure Group, a private equity firm that invested $50 million to help it expand.
Steward added 20 advisors last year and three this year, according to Greg Banasz, head of business development.
“It gives me the opportunity to get involved with a segment of the business that I see as the fastest-growing channel,” said Mulholland, who worked at Merrill Lynch for more than 25 years and was persuaded by former Merrill head Bob McCann to follow him to UBS in 2009.
Traditional brokerage firms like Merrill (now owned by Bank of America), UBS (with its PaineWebber lineage) and Morgan Stanley (with its Smith Barney heritage) have lost some of their cultural brand identity as they were reshaped by their commercial bank parents, and as some of their leaders ventured to upstart independent firms and old-school family offices looking to reinvent themselves.
Greg Fleming, the former president of Merrill Lynch and head of Morgan Stanley’s wealth management business, now runs Rockefeller Capital Management. Doug Ketterer, a 27-year Morgan Stanley Dean Witter veteran who once ran its brokerage network, is now chief executive of Atria Wealth Solutions, an acquisitive independent broker-dealer.
(Editors’ Note: Tony Sirianni, CEO and publisher of AdvisorHub, was a founding partner of Steward Partners.)