June 28, 2021
Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley
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Morgan Stanley and Sanctuary on Friday landed two Merrill Lynch teams led by lifers who had spent over three decades each with the “thundering herd” in the Lone Star state.
The most veteran producer is Stephen C. Ibarguen, who worked for all of his 37-year career at Merrill and moved to Morgan Stanley in Dallas on Friday. Ibarguen, along with his daughter, Alexa, who started at Merrill in 2018, had generated $2 million in annual revenue and managed around $200 million, according to a person familiar with their practice.
The team, which also includes a client associate, reports to Dallas Park Cities branch manager Michael Bonomo who one month ago hired a six-person team with $5.4 million in revenue led by John Calandro III.
Morgan Stanley also last week hired a $4.5 million Merrill broker Trevor P. Nelson who managed $950 million for a number of corporate stock plan clients in Washington D.C.?
Separately, in Fort Worth, independent broker-dealer Sanctuary Wealth said it hired a team led by 32-year Merrill veteran Bradley Bruce. Bruce’s four-person team had managed $1.22 billion in client assets and also joined Friday, according to Indianapolis-based Sanctuary.
The group, formerly known as the Bruce Wealth Management Group at Merrill, also includes support staff Joanna Horton, April Bierle and Cheryl McCarson. They are calling their new practice mForce Capital.
“The advisory business changed a lot in the last few years, and we wanted to take advantage of that,” Bruce, who ranked #31 on Forbes’ best-in-state advisor list this year, said in a statement. “Our practice has grown to the point where clients need more complex solutions than we had been able to offer and we wanted to be a little more creative in helping them.”
Bruce had known Vince Fertitta, a former Merrill regional director in the Southwest who joined Sanctuary in 2019 “for years” since he had overseen their division, according to the announcement. A Sanctuary spokesperson declined to comment on their production, which a source estimated at around $3 million.
A Merrill spokesperson did not return a request for comment on the exits, which extend a long-running stream of departures. The firm has said its attrition rate of around 4% has been consistent year-over-year and that 80% of those who move had joined Merrill from other firms.
Morgan Stanley executives said in a presentation earlier this month that their ‘competitive’ attrition rate was less than 2%, compared with 4% in 2015.
Both firms have made it more difficult to track the number of traditional brokers coming and going. Morgan Stanley, which had around 16,000 brokers at the end of the first quarter, no longer discloses its advisor count in quarterly reports while Merrill, which stopped hiring seasoned brokers in 2017, combines its sales force with salaried private bankers and call center-based advisors for a total of around 20,000.
In another Merrill exit last week, a duo managing $211 million joined regional brokerage Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. in Brentwood, Tennessee. The team is led by William H. Wade, who had been a producing manager at Merrill’s Brentwood branch, and Reid Berry, who started his career at Merrill six years ago.
Wade started his career at Guardian Investor Services in 1994 and joined Merrill by way of Banc of America Investment Services, Bank of America’s discount brokerage business that it folded into Merrill in 2009, according to BrokerCheck.