July 25 (Reuters) - Bank of America's Merrill Lynch has landed seven veteran advisers from rival brokerage Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in a sign that the firm is starting to fill the void left by a slew of significant departures earlier this year.
The new hires, who joined Merrill in late May and June, managed more than $559 million in client assets at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, the brokerage unit owned jointly by Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.
In Florida, advisers James McKenzie, Ricardo Quiros and Mauricio Rubio joined Merrill's Weston office. McKenzie, who had been at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney for more than a decade, managed $235 million in client assets with Quiros and Rubio. The advisers generated roughly $2.1 million in revenue last year.
In Michigan, advisers Robert Steingold and Geoffrey Orbach joined Merrill's Troy office. Steingold had been with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and its predecessor firms for more than two decades. Orbach also previously worked at UBS but had started his career with Merrill Lynch in 1987, according to regulatory filings. The advisers managed roughly $177 million in client assets and generated $1.4 million in revenue last year.
In California, advisers Douglas McPherson and Dean Ridgway joined Merrill's San Diego office. McPherson had previously worked with Merrill in the 1990s. The advisers managed more than $147 million in client assets and generated roughly $1.2 million in annual revenue last year at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney.
The new hires, which represent roughly $4.7 million in annual production, are significant additions individually but represent only a fraction of the total production amount lost at Merrill due to advisers who left the firm this year. At least 110 veteran advisers, managing more than $21 billion in client assets, have left the brokerage since January, based on moves tracked by Reuters. Reuters tracks the moves of advisers and teams managing roughly $100 million or more in client assets and generating roughly $1 million or more in annual production.
Many of those Merrill advisers left because of concerns about the state of their parent company and growing frustrations with the big bank-brokerage model, which advisers said have led to perceived pressure to cross-sell the bank's loans and services.
New Jersey-based lawyer Tom Lewis, who helps brokers during the transition process to a new firm, said Merrill is "getting more aggressive" in its recruiting of top advisers after losing so many earlier this year. Lewis has worked with more than 400 Merrill advisers leaving the firm over the past 15 years.
Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, which formed after the merger of Morgan Stanley's wealth unit and Citigroup's Smith Barney in 2009, is often neck-and-neck with Merrill Lynch for the spot as top U.S. brokerage by client assets and headcount. (Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York; Editing by Jennifer Merritt and Kenneth Barry)