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Morgan Stanley has hired a huge Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey

Morgan Stanley has hired a big Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida as it contributes to the list of multi-million-dollar hires from the rival wirehouse.

The group includes Lawrence W. Mercedes Fonte, Erik Beiermeister, Steven, his son, and Catena as well as three clientele associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, according to a person familiar with the practice of theirs, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth team for clients with twenty dolars million or more in their accounts.
The staff had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households that have an average net worth of $50 million, according to Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of 84 top advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter which worked with the group on the move of theirs, said that the total assets of theirs were $1.2 billion when factoring in new clients and market appreciation in the two years since Barron’s assessed the practice of theirs.

Catena, who spent all but a rookie year of his 30 year career at Merrill, did not return a request for comment on the team’s move, which happened in December, based on BrokerCheck.

Catena made the decision to move after the son Steven of his rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence began considering a succession plan for his practice, based on Diamond.

“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill-with no intention to create a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when the son of his, Steven, came into the business he soon started viewing his firm with a whole new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”

The move comes as Merrill is actually launching an innovative enhanced sunsetting program in November that can add an additional seventy five percentage points to brokers’ payout whenever they agree to leave the book of theirs at the firm, but Diamond said the updated Client Transition Program wasn’t “on Larry’s radar” after he’d decided to make his move.

Steven Catena started his career at Merrill in 2016 but sojourned at Prudential Investment Management from 2017 until 2020 before rejoining, according to FintechZoom.

Beiermeister, which works separately from a branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, started his career at Merrill in 2001, according to BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her at Merrill in 2015.

A spokesperson for Merrill didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Morgan Stanley has hired a huge Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida
Morgan Stanley has hired a huge Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida

 

The group is actually at least the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months as well as appears to be the largest. Additionally, it selected a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month in addition to a pair of advisors producing about $2.6 million from Merrill in Maryland.

In December, Morgan Stanley lured a solo producer in California who had won asset growth accolades from Merrill and in October hired a 26 year Merrill lifer in a Chicago suburb who was generating more than $2 million.

Morgan Stanley aggressively re entered the recruiting market last year after a three year hiatus, and executives have said that for the first time in recent years it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the amount of new hires offset those who left.

It ended 2020 with 15,950 advisors – 482 more than twelve months earlier and 481 higher than at the conclusion of the third quarter. Most of the increase came out of the addition of around 200 E*Trade advisors that work primarily from call centers, a Morgan Stanley executive said.

Merrill Lynch, which has stood by its freeze on veteran broker recruiting put in place in 2017, no longer breaks out the number of its of branch-based wealth management brokers from its consumer-bank-based Edge brokerage force.

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