Star-QB-turned-adviser goes independent route

Billy Blanton went from gridiron to wirehouse; now he's going solo

By Andrew Osterland

Mar 12, 2012 @ 3:58 pm (Updated 4:02 pm) EST

Football

Southern California football star William Blanton — better known as Billy Blanton — has joined a new team.

Mr. Blanton, a wirehouse adviser at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley for the past 13 years, has opted to go the independent RIA route, joining Washington Wealth Management LLC last week.

“Over the last couple of years, I've felt there was a conflict of interest working for a public company,” said Mr. Blanton, who was named Southern California's top high school football player in 1991. “Going independent gives me a competitive platform and the flexibility to better serve my clients.”

The former standout quarterback for Mater Dei High School —he still holds the record for touchdown passes there — and for San Diego State University, decided not to pursue an NFL career.

“We had some offers, but I'm 6 feet, 175 pounds and I know the abuse that the body takes playing football,” he explained. “I had a great career at San Diego State, and I decided to end it on a high note.”

Mr. Blanton has excelled in the advisory business since leaving the gridiron. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1998 several years after graduating from San Diego State. He moved to Morgan Stanley in 2007. Currently, he manages $170 million in assets and had trailing-12-month production of $750,000.

Christy Pollack, a spokeswoman for MSSB, confirmed the departure.

Mr. Blanton will join Washington's Carmel Valley office, and be reunited with Scott Wilson, a former complex manager at Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Mr. Wilson is currently western regional director for Washington Wealth.

The signing of Mr. Blanton is a coup for the firm, which was launched just over a year ago to attract advisers from the wirehouse world. Chief executive Tony Sirianni said he started the firm specifically to help those advisers make the transition to independence. “A lot of wirehouse advisers have looked at the independent option, but it can be a big hassle,” said Mr. Sirianni, who has worked in management with Legg Mason Inc., Citigroup Inc., Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley. He said he offers advisers a “plug and play” environment and a 70% payout. “It's the reason I started the business.”

The firm currently has $520 million in assets under management, but Mr. Sirianni said he expects to bring on a dozen more advisers over the next several months.

Mr. Blanton, for one, is happy with his new team. “At the end of the day, I wanted to truly be proud of what I do,” he said. “This has given me that opportunity.”