Wirehouse Wars: Merrill Loses Young NYC Star to Morgan Stanley
James P Taylor, a Merrill Lynch Wealth advisor who built a $380-million book of business since becoming a broker six years ago, led his 13-person New York City team to Morgan Stanley on Friday.
His team, which includes five financial advisors, produced about $3 million of revenue for Merrill in the previous 12 months, according to a person familiar with his practice. The group focuses on helping corporate executives manage highly concentrated stock portfolios, according to their Merrill team website.
They and their associates—four trainees, three client associates and an “investment consultant”—each have ten or fewer years of brokerage industry experience, an in-demand cohort at a time when the average Finra-registered advisor is over 50.
Merrill has lost several veteran multi-million-dollar producers in the past year—and in September bid adieu to a $3.3 billion-asset team in Manhattan that included three next-gen advisors who joined Morgan Stanley.
Despite the departures, Merrill plans to remain in the Protocol for Broker Recruiting that allows brokers to move with client contact information without fear of being sued and will continue its three-year freeze on recruiting competitively from rivals, a senior executive previously told AdvisorHub.
Unlike Morgan Stanley, which left the Protocol but this year re-entered recruiting after a budget freeze, Merrill is relying on new career-development programs to nurture replacement advisors, said the executive.
Taylor, whose team’s former web page indicates that he joined Merrill in a non-broker role in 2011, did not return a call for comment on the motivation for his move.
Morgan Stanley may have taken advantage of management turmoil at the Rockefeller Center branch where Taylor worked, since he was close to former manager Michael Simonds who was transferred in February to a downtown branch, said a longtime Merrill broker. Specialist teams, such as Taylor’s executive stock management group, often depend on manager-coordinated referrals from other advisors, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Morgan Stanley has been particularly interested in hiring teams that manage executive stock compensation plans, giving them exclusive access to leads from the bulk of its more than 15,000 brokers who are restricted from offering the services. In August, it hired a $6.5 million team of UBS producers in Houston, Tex., specializing in the stock-award space.
Merrill continues to make branch management shifts nationally to plug holes left by departing branch and complex managers. Last week, it told Texas advisors that Michael J. Barch will move from his role as associate manager of a Long Island, NY, complex to head its Downtown Dallas market on an interim basis.
Barch fills a role that had been held by downtown Dallas market head Alan Fonner, who retired on November 1. The three-branch complex has 125 advisors working with $17 billion in client assets, according to Fonner’s LinkedIn page.
Barch has been based in Huntington Station, NY, since 2016, and before that held commercial bank sales roles at Bank of America, Merrill’s parent company. He has been with BofA for 13 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Merrill last month elevated 13-year broker Robert Robles to manage a Dallas “Galleria” office that is part of a neighboring complex led by Chris Miller.
Merrill’s ongoing search for middle managers led it to tap Courtney McCarthy, a recent graduate of its leadership training program, to lead its Coastal New England market two weeks ago. Last week, Merrill made an unusual break in its recruiting policy, hiring veteran manager Sharon Perhac from Wells Fargo Advisors to oversee a Connecticut complex.
-Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.