A $400 million Bank of America Merrill Lynch team, led by James Maher, has left to form a registered investment advisory firm, Archford Capital Strategies LLC.
Based in Swansea, Ill., a suburb of St. Louis, the new firm also has an office in Creve Coeur, Mo.
Joining Mr. Maher in the move are partners John Russo, chief operating officer; Jerry West, chief investment officer; and Robert Schlueter, director of operations, along with four other staff members.
The team specializes in helping owners of closely held businesses sell their firms.
“We're very excited about being able to expand what we can do on the credit side for closely held businesses,” Mr. Maher said.
“Being independent expands our ability to reach out to other [lending] institutions. In the past, if it wasn't in the [Merrill] offering or it wasn't what the bank was interested in, a lot of times ... the project may have died at that point,” he said.
Mr. Maher, whose firm is using Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC as its custodian, expects to partner with Pershing's parent, The Bank of New York Mellon Corp., for small-business financing, or with other lenders available through his platform provider, Dynasty Financial Partners LLC.
The team also serves doctors, certified public accountants and attorneys, and does a lot of work with nonprofits, Mr. Maher said.
So far, there has been no reaction from Merrill since the team left.
“We followed the [recruitment] protocol, [so] the move has been pretty noneventful,” Mr. Maher said.
The transition to independence wasn't a huge culture shock, said Mr. Maher, who has been with Merrill Lynch since 2001 and began in the industry with Edward Jones in 1997.
“I grew up on a family farm in Mingo, Iowa, and I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit. We've applied the same discipline to [the team's practice] as if we owned the business ourselves,” Mr. Maher said.