Morgan Stanley has hired a significant Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in Florida and New Jersey 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 in addition to 3 client associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, in accordance with an individual familiar with their practice, as well as joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth group for clients with twenty dolars million or even more in the accounts of theirs.
The staff had managed $735 million in client assets from 76 households who have an average net worth of $50 million, according to Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of eighty four best advisors in Florida in 2020. Mindy Diamond, an industry recruiter that worked with the team on the move of theirs, 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 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 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 goal to make a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when the son of his, Steven, came into the business he soon started viewing the firm of his with a 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 extra seventy five percentage points to brokers’ payout whenever they agree 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 his move.
Steven Catena started his career at Merrill in 2016 but sojourned at Prudential Investment Management from 2017 until 2020 before rejoining, as reported by FintechZoom.
Beiermeister, who works separately from a branch in Florham Park, New Jersey, began his career at Merrill in 2001, according to BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her at Merrill in 2015.
A spokesperson for Merrill didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
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 biggest. 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 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 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 twelve months earlier and 481 higher than at the end of the third quarter. Much of the increase came from 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.