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Morgan Stanley has hired a significant 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 contributes 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 as well as three customer associates. They had been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, in accordance with a person familiar with their practice, and 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 best 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 two years since Barron’s assessed their practice.

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 took place in December, according to BrokerCheck.

Catena made the decision to move after the son Steven of his 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 make a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, Steven, came into the business he started to view his firm through 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 that can add an extra seventy five percentage points to brokers’ payout when they agree to leave their book 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 the career of his 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 huge 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 a minimum of the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months as well as appears to be the largest. 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 which had won asset-growth accolades from Merrill and in October hired a 26-year Merrill lifer in a Chicago suburb who 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 very first time in recent years it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the amount of new hires offset those that 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. A lot 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, that 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.

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