Advisers on the Move

Bank of America Merrill Lynch still on hiring roll

Nabs six advisers in Texas, Pennsylvania and California

Aug 2, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

By Andrew Osterland

Bank of America Merrill Lynch has announced the hiring of six new financial advisers late yesterday, after a pair of private bankers managing more than $1 billion in assets moved their practice to independent registered investment adviser shop Hightower Advisors LLC last Friday.

The six advisers manage a combined $813.2 million and had trailing-12-month production of about $5.5 million.

BAML lured four of the six advisers from rival Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. The legacy Smith Barney team of Bernard Orbach, Erik Vatter and Matthew Groff, which manages just under $226 million and had trailing revenue of $2.1 million, will join BAML's Harrisburg, Pa., office. Another Smith Barney broker, James Wolslager, will join the firm's Austin, Texas, office. Mr. Wolslager manages roughly $71 million in assets and produced revenue of $1.15 million in the last 12 months. An MSSB spokesperson confirmed the departures of the four advisers.

The team of Tony Murphy and Lewis Matthews will join BAML's Walnut Creek, Calif., office. Mr. Murphy spent the last eight years with Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, and with Mr. Matthews manages $342.3 million and produced $1.2 million in revenue. A spokesperson for Wells Fargo confirmed the departures.

Rounding out the six advisers all hired in the last several weeks, Michael Borza, a 23-year veteran with UBS Financial Services Inc., joins the bank's Virginia Beach, Va., office. Mr. Borza manages $174 million in assets and had trailing revenue of just over $1 million. A spokesperson for UBS did not provide comment by press time.

The hires represent a continuing trend at Bank of America Merrill Lynch to expand its wealth management business over the last 18 months. It has added substantially to its adviser ranks in that period, while Morgan Stanley Smith Barney has been pruning its brokerage force. (Click here to see notable Merrill recruits in 2011.)

Between Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management and other operations at the bank, BAML had 20,876 client-facing professionals at the end of the second quarter. The bank hired 603 people during the quarter. That represents more than twice the previous largest quarterly gain in the adviser ranks since Bank of America Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. merged in the fall of 2008, Bank of America spokesperson Selena Morris said.

The number of financial advisers at Merrill Lynch was 16,241 at the end of the second quarter. MSSB still has the largest brokerage force in the country, with 17,638 advisers. (Click here for the latest data on wirehouse rep counts, assets and productivity.)

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