Morgan Stanley has hired a significant Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida as it will add 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 in addition to three client associates. They had been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, according to an individual familiar with the practice of theirs, and also joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth group for clients with $20 million or even more in the accounts of theirs.
The group had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households that have an average net worth of fifty dolars million, as reported by Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of 84 best 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 their practice.
Catena, who spent all however, 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 began considering a succession plan for the practice of his, as reported by Diamond.
“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill-with no goal to create a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when the son of his, Steven, came into the business he soon started to view his firm through 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 which can add an extra 75 percentage points to brokers’ payout when they agree 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 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, that works individually from a department in Florham Park, New Jersey, started the career of his at Merrill in 2001, as reported by BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
The group is a minimum of the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months and also appears to be the biggest. In addition, it selected a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month as well as a pair of advisors producing about $2.6 million from Merrill in Maryland.
In December, Morgan Stanley lured a solo producer in California that 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 very first time in recent years 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 twelve months earlier and 481 higher than at the end of the third quarter. Most of the increase came from the addition of more than 200 E*Trade advisors that work primarily from call centers, a Morgan Stanley executive said.
Merrill Lynch, that has stood by the freeze of its on veteran broker recruiting put in place in 2017, no longer breaks out its number of branch-based wealth management brokers from its consumer-bank-based Edge brokerage force.