Morgan Stanley has hired a big 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. Catena, his son, Steven, Erik Beiermeister, and Mercedes Fonte and also three client associates. They had been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, according to a person familiar with their practice, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth team for clients with $20 million or more in their accounts.
The staff had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households which have an average net worth of fifty dolars million, as reported by Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of eighty four top rated advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter which worked with the team 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, didn’t return a request for comment on the team’s move, which happened 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 intention to come up with a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, Steven, came into the business he began viewing his firm with 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 which can add an extra seventy five percentage points to brokers’ payout whenever 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’d 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, who works individually from a branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, started the career of his at Merrill in 2001, according to BrokerCheck. Fonte started her career at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill didn’t 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 appears to be the largest. In addition, it hired a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month in addition to a pair of advisors producing aproximatelly $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 who was generating 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 first time recently 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 weeks earlier and 481 higher than at the conclusion of the third quarter. Much of the increase came from the addition of more than 200 E*Trade advisors that work largely from call centers, a Morgan Stanley executive said.
Merrill Lynch, which 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.