Morgan Stanley has hired a huge Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida

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 in addition to three customer associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, based on an individual familiar with the practice of theirs, 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 which have an average net worth of $50 million, based on Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of eighty four best advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter which worked with the team on the move of theirs, 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, did not return a request for comment on the team’s move, which took place 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 his practice, according to Diamond.

“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill with no purpose to come up with 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 actually launching a brand-new enhanced sunsetting program in November that can add an additional 75 percentage points to brokers’ payout once they consent to leave the book of theirs at the firm, but Diamond said the updated Client Transition Program was not “on Larry’s radar” after he had 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, as reported by FintechZoom.

Beiermeister, which works separately from a branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, began the career of his at Merrill in 2001, based on BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her at Merrill in 2015.

A spokesperson for Merrill didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

Morgan Stanley has hired a big Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey

Morgan Stanley has hired a significant Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey

 

The group is actually at least the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months and appears to be the biggest. 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 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 which 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 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 months earlier and 481 higher than at the conclusion of the third quarter. Much of the increase came from the addition 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.

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