Morgan Stanley has hired a big Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida 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 customer associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, according to an individual familiar with their practice, and joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth group for clients with twenty dolars million or perhaps more in the accounts of theirs.
The staff had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households that have an average net worth of $50 million, based on Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of 84 top advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter that worked with the team on their move, said that the total assets of theirs 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 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 took place in December, as reported by 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 his practice, based on Diamond.
“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill with no objective to come up with a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, Steven, came into the business he began viewing the firm of his with a brand new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”
The move comes as Merrill is actually launching a new enhanced sunsetting program in November which can add an extra 75 percentage points to brokers’ payout whenever 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 had decided to make the move of his.
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 department in Florham Park, New Jersey, began 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 also seems to be the largest. It also hired a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month and a pair of advisors producing aproximatelly $2.6 million from Merrill in Maryland.
In December, Morgan Stanley lured a solo producer in California which had won asset growth accolades from Merrill and in October hired a 26 year Merrill lifer in a Chicago suburb which was producing much more than two dolars 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 12 weeks 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 who work largely 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 its number of branch-based wealth management brokers from its consumer-bank-based Edge brokerage force.