Morgan Stanley has hired a huge 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. Catena, his son, Steven, Erik Beiermeister, and Mercedes Fonte 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 team for clients with $20 million or even more in their accounts.
The group had managed $735 million in client assets from seventy six households who have an average net worth of $50 million, according to Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of eighty four top advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter that worked with the group on their move, 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 though 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, based on BrokerCheck.
Catena decided to move after the son Steven of his rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence began considering a succession plan for his practice, according to Diamond.
“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill-with no objective to create a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, 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 interesting enhanced sunsetting program in November which can add an additional seventy five percentage points to brokers’ payout once 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 had 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, as reported by FintechZoom.
Beiermeister, that works individually from a part 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 actually at least the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months as well as appears to be the biggest. It also employed 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 which 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 number 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. 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, 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.