Morgan Stanley breakaways double size of SoCal practice

Cypress Group joins a growing practice with roots in financial planning for doctors, entertainment industry nonprofits

Apr 28, 2014 @ 11:10 am

By Trevor Hunnicutt

Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, Integrated Wealth Management, Cypress Group, breakaway brokers
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A team of seven Morgan Stanley brokers in Southern California who previously managed $740 million are breaking away, according to a statement by the firm they've joined.

The brokers — who will do business as the Cypress Group — will more than double the asset base of Integrated Wealth Management Inc., the independent advisory firm they're joining, if they retain all of those assets.

That would be a milestone for the Palm Springs, Calif.-based firm, lifting its assets above the symbolic $1 billion threshold and further expanding its base beyond doctors and foundations surrounding the entertainment industry.

The firm's filings with securities regulators currently list $623 million in assets under management, nine advisers and 700 clients.

Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. records show the seven brokers, formerly based in Palm Desert, Calif. for the wirehouse, are now registered with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments Inc., a broker-dealer that caters to RIAs looking to preserve some brokerage business.

James M. Casey, Integrated Wealth Management's president and chief executive, has his roots in niche financial advisory services. He was a regional vice president for the American Medical Association's now-defunct investment advisory firm before the business AMA divested that part of of the business in the mid-1990s. He took his clients and opened Physicians' Asset Management Inc., according to Mr. Casey.

Integrated Wealth Management grew out of that business after Mr. Casey was engaged by the Screen Actors Guild Foundation to manage some of that firms' finances as well as other business relationships in the nonprofit scene surrounding the entertainment industry, according to the biography.

His firm also has offices in Palm Desert, Calif.; Newport Beach, Calif.; Meridian, Idaho; and Anchorage, Alaska.

Mr. Casey said the brokers were offered the potential for equity in the firm.

"We have been very selective about who we've brought on board," Mr. Casey said. Before this deal, Integrated Wealth brought on six brokers from large firms.

A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Bernadette Rhodes, confirmed the departure and declined to comment further.

Before 2008, most of the brokers — Mark Thatcher, Shad F. Lamm, Chris Risenmay, Ross Biesinger, David Thatcher, Clark Penney and Marc Koven — worked at Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc., where several were members of production clubs, which reward advisers who meet certain revenue and other targets.

Five of the team members have roots in Utah, attending either Utah State University or Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, according to biographies that appear on a Morgan Stanley website.

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