Hybrid run by ex-Merrill execs land two powerful backers

Brinker Capital, Bob Doll take stake in Snowden Capital Advisors

Dec 7, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

By Dan Jamieson

Snowden Capital Advisors LLC has had a busy couple of weeks.

Late in November, the firm landed its first adviser partners — two former Merrill Lynch teams who opened an office in Pasadena, Calif.

This week, the upstart hybrid firm, formed in April by former Merrill Lynch executives Rob Mooney and John Morris, announced that Brinker Capital Inc., the turnkey asset management provider, and Bob Doll, chief equity strategist at Nuveen Asset Management LLC, had invested in the company.

Mr. Doll and Charles Widger, Brinker executive chairman, will join Snowden's strategic advisory board.

The New York-based Snowden also announced the appointments of Lyle LaMothe as non-executive chairman of Snowden's board, and Greg Franks as managing partner and president.

Mr. LaMothe, a senior partner at Left Hand Logic LLC, a consulting firm, was formerly head of U.S. wealth management for Merrill Lynch. Mr. Franks was formerly a divisional and regional manager for Merrill.

Mr. LaMothe was already on Snowden's advisory board.

And lastly on the executive front, Snowden named Chris Lappas, previously a regional director for Merrill, as chief operating officer.

The new adviser office in Pasadena is staffed by John DiCiaccio, lead adviser on the DiCiaccio team, who joined Snowden as a managing director, with vice president Leah Thomson Snell. They are joined by Jon LaMothe and Luis Gonzalez, both managing directors working together as the LaMothe-Gonzalez team.

The teams have in excess of $500 million in client assets under management, according to Snowden.

All of the advisers have become partners in Snowden.

Jon LaMothe is the brother of Lyle LaMothe.

“We're in discussion with a number of teams, across a variety of firms,” Mr. Mooney said of Snowden's recruiting efforts. “Suffice it to say, we want to be a nationally branded boutique firm. We want to get significantly larger, but we're not looking to be a large asset aggregator,” he said.

Snowden's goal of building a lasting client-centric culture is what attracted Brinker, said John Coyne, vice chairman at the TAMP. Snowden is “committed to creating a really exciting culture,” Mr. Coyne said. “A lot of [similar RIA] firms are clearly … rollups” that will be sold or merged at some point.

Brinker has been around for 25 years, he said, “and we love and celebrate our culture. That's the sort of vibe we got with [Snowden]. … Knowing John and Rob for many years [and] seeing what they accomplished at Merrill and on their own, we wanted to be part of what we see as the next wave in the RIA space.”

Brinker's purchase of a stake in Snowden is the first “significant” outside investment the firm has made, Mr. Coyne added, “so it's something unique.”

“Both Bob [Doll] and Brinker have a lot of good advice to give us,” Mr. Mooney said.

Despite the outside investments, the relationship Snowden has with Nuveen and Brinker is not “any different than what we would have with any asset manager or platform,” he added.

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