Morgan Stanley has hired a significant 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 in addition to three customer associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, based on a person familiar with their practice, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth team for clients with $20 million or even 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 top rated advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter who 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 though a rookie year of his 30-year career at Merrill, didn’t return a request for comment on the team’s move, which occurred in December, based on BrokerCheck.
Catena decided to move after his son Steven rejoined the team in February 2020 and Lawrence began considering a succession plan for his practice, based on 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 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 a completely new enhanced sunsetting program in November which can add an extra seventy five 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 wasn’t “on Larry’s radar” after he had decided to make the move of his.
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 part in Florham Park, New Jersey, started the career of his at Merrill in 2001, according to BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill did not immediately return a request for comment.
The group is a minimum of the fifth that Morgan Stanley has hired from Merrill in recent months and seems to be the largest. In addition, it hired a duo with $500 million in assets in Red Bank, New Jersey last month and a pair of advisors producing aproximatelly $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 amount of new hires offset those who 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 out of the inclusion of around 200 E*Trade advisors who 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.