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

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. Catena, his son, Steven, Erik Beiermeister, and Mercedes Fonte and also three client associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, in accordance with a person familiar with the practice of theirs, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth group for clients with twenty dolars million or 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 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 group 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 their practice.

Catena, who spent all however, a rookie year of his 30 year career at Merrill, did not return a request for comment on the team’s move, which happened in December, as reported by BrokerCheck.

Catena decided to move after his son Steven rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence began considering a succession plan for the practice of his, according to Diamond.

“Larry always thought of himself as a lifer with Merrill with no intention to make a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, Steven, came into the business he soon started to view his firm with a brand new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”

The move comes as Merrill is launching a different enhanced sunsetting program in November which can add an additional 75 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 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 branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, started the career of his at Merrill in 2001, as reported by BrokerCheck. Fonte started her career at Merrill in 2015.

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

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

 

The group is at least the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months and also seems to be the biggest. In addition, it selected a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month as well as a pair of advisors producing about $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 who was producing much 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 recently it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the number 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 end of the third quarter. A lot of the increase came out of the inclusion of around 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.

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