Morgan Stanley has hired a huge 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. Mercedes Fonte, Erik Beiermeister, Steven, his son, and Catena as well as three client associates. They’d been generating $7.5 million in annual fees and commissions, based on a person familiar with the practice of theirs, and joined Morgan Stanley’s private wealth group for clients with $20 million or more in their accounts.
The team had managed $735 million in client assets from seventy six households which have an average net worth of $50 million, based on Barron’s, which ranked Catena #33 out of eighty four best 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 took place in December, according to BrokerCheck.

Catena decided to move after the son Steven of his 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 objective to make a move,” Diamond wrote in an email. “But, when his son, Steven, came into the business he began to view the firm of his with a brand new lens. Would it be good enough for the life of Steven’s career?”

The move comes as Merrill is actually launching an innovative enhanced sunsetting program in November that can add an extra 75 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 was not “on Larry’s radar” after he’d 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, according to FintechZoom.

Beiermeister, that works separately from a department in Florham Park, New Jersey, started his career at Merrill in 2001, based on BrokerCheck. Fonte started the career of her 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 New Jersey and Florida
Morgan Stanley has hired a significant Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management team based in New Jersey and Florida

 

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. Additionally, it hired 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 that had won asset growth accolades from Merrill and in October hired a 26 year Merrill lifer in a Chicago suburb that 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 very first time in recent times it closed its net recruiting gap to near zero as the amount of new hires offset those who actually left.

It ended 2020 with 15,950 advisors – 482 more than 12 weeks earlier and 481 higher than at the end of the third quarter. A lot of the increase came from the addition of around 200 E*Trade advisors who 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 the number of its of branch based wealth management brokers from its consumer-bank-based Edge brokerage force.