Merrill fires $2.5 billion-plus adviser

Marc D. Lowe dismissed for "inappropriate workplace behavior;" circumstances still unclear

Jul 22, 2015 @ 1:11 pm

By Mason Braswell

Bank of America Merrill Lynch fired a top broker in California earlier this month, citing "conduct involving inappropriate workplace behavior, resulting in loss of management's confidence," according to documents filed with state regulators by Merrill Lynch.

Marc D. Lowe, a senior vice president on a team that oversaw $2.5 billion in client assets in Los Angeles, confirmed that he was no longer at the firm but declined to elaborate on the reasons behind his departure.

A spokesman for Merrill Lynch, William P. Halldin, confirmed that Mr. Lowe was no longer with the firm but declined to comment.

The disclosure, which was made in a Central Registration Depository Snapshot, a detailed employment record available through state securities regulators, shows he was discharged on July 9.

Sources say the reasons behind his departure are still unclear, but added that there were disagreements between Mr. Lowe and senior management at the firm.

Mr. Lowe's BrokerCheck record with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. shows that he is no longer registered with Merrill Lynch but does not show any termination for cause or any other disclosure events or client complaints.

Mr. Lowe is still looking for a new firm, sources said.

In 2011, Mr. Lowe was ranked No. 24 on a list compiled by Barron's of top advisers in California. He was said to be managing $5 billion in assets. Sources noted, however, that the managing director on the team, John Vilardo, may have overseen a large portion of the assets the team was managing.

The rest of Mr. Lowe's 12-person team, including Mr. Vilardo and several other advisers and support staff, remains at the firm, according to their website.

Mr. Lowe is a legacy Bank of America adviser and worked with Banc of America Investment Services Inc. until he registered with Merrill Lynch in 2009, according to BrokerCheck.

An industry recruiter, Mark Albers, who was a former complex director with Merrill Lynch in San Diego, said the team built its business while at the bank by working with a number of high-net-worth families.

“The Vilardo team has a reputation of being professionals, and they have done a really good job of working with clients,” Mr. Albers said. “The loss of one guy is unfortunate. It appears to be some HR issue, but we'll never know.”

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