Morgan Stanley has hired a big Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey as it adds 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 client associates. They had been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, according to a person familiar with their practice, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth team for clients with $20 million or more in their accounts.
The group had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households that have an average net worth of fifty dolars million, based on Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of 84 top advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter which worked with the team on their move, said that their total assets were $1.2 billion when factoring in new clients and market appreciation in the two years since Barron’s assessed their practice.
Catena, who spent all although a rookie year of the 30-year career of his at Merrill, didn’t return a request for comment on the team’s move, which happened in December, based on BrokerCheck.
Catena made the decision to move after his son Steven rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence started considering a succession plan for the practice of his, according to Diamond.
“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill-with no intention to make a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when the son of his, Steven, came into the business he soon began viewing his firm through a new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”
The move comes as Merrill is launching a unique enhanced sunsetting program in November which can add an additional seventy five percentage points to brokers’ payout whenever they consent to leave their book at the firm, but Diamond said the updated Client Transition Program wasn’t “on Larry’s radar” after he’d decided to make the move of his.
Steven Catena started the career of his at Merrill in 2016 but sojourned at Prudential Investment Management from 2017 until 2020 before rejoining, according to FintechZoom.
Beiermeister, that works separately from a branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, began the career of his at Merrill in 2001, as reported by BrokerCheck. Fonte started her career at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment.
The group is actually a minimum of the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months as well as appears to be the largest. In addition, it employed a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month in addition to a pair of advisors producing aproximatelly $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 producing 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 very first time in recent years it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the amount of new hires offset those that left.
It ended 2020 with 15,950 advisors – 482 more than twelve weeks earlier and 481 higher than at the end of the third quarter. A lot of the increase came from the inclusion of around 200 E*Trade advisors that work largely from call centers, a Morgan Stanley executive said.
Merrill Lynch, that 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.