Morgan Stanley has hired a significant Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey 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 and also three client associates. They had been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, in accordance with an individual familiar with the practice of theirs, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth team for clients with $20 million or perhaps more in their accounts.
The staff had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households which 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 who worked with the group on their move, said that their total assets were $1.2 billion when factoring in new clients and market appreciation in the 2 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 took place in December, according to BrokerCheck.
Catena decided to move after his son Steven rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence started considering a succession plan for his practice, as reported by 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 his son, Steven, came into the business he began to view the firm of his through a new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”
The move comes as Merrill is launching a brand-new enhanced sunsetting program in November which can add an additional 75 percentage points to brokers’ payout when they agree to leave their book at the firm, but Diamond said the updated Client Transition Program was not “on Larry’s radar” after he’d decided to make his move.
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, started his career at Merrill in 2001, according to BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment.
The group is at least the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months and seems to be the biggest. It also employed a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month and 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 that was producing much 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 times it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the amount of new hires offset those who actually left.
It ended 2020 with 15,950 advisors – 482 more than 12 weeks earlier and 481 higher than at the end of the third quarter. A lot of the increase came out of the inclusion of over 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.