Merrill loses $3.3 billion private banking team

A group of advisers left to form their own RIA, Corient Capital Partners

Sep 29, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

By Laura Sanicola

A group of advisers formerly in Merrill Lynch's elite private banking and investment group have left the firm to start an independent wealth-management practice.

Corient Capital Partners, based in Newport Beach, Calif., was founded by advisers Chris Copps, Gordon Hassenplug, Darren Henderson, Michael Phelps, Alex Stimpson, Jon Tenney and Greg Walters. The group managed $3.3 billion in client assets.

“We were constantly evaluating our options and didn't feel that moving to another big wirehouse was the right thing," said Mr. Henderson, a founding partner. "There were a lot of late nights and weekends and planning involved in the move.”

According to its website, Corient Capital Partners will serve ultra-affluent individuals, their families and their businesses.

Mr. Copps served as a managing director at Merrill's private banking group for 14 years. Mr. Hasenplug and Mr. Stimpson were senior vice presidents.

Joining the seven founding partners on the investment team are former Merrill Lynch advisers Heather Hargrove, Tami Hay and Nicole McMann, as well as financial analysts Cole Turner and Austin Allen.

Corient partnered with Dynasty Financial Partners, a service provider for advisers looking to start their own firms.

According to the firm's Form ADV, Corient is using Fidelity Investments and Pershing as their custodians.

“We are all really excited about this venture and have a number of clients that are thrilled by this move,” Mr. Henderson said.


Corient is the latest RIA to pop up in recent months from advisers who have left the wirehouses. Another duo, which was also part of Merrill's private banking group and managed $800 million in Texas, broke away last month to start their own firm, Venturi Wealth Management.

Despite those departures, Matthew Card, spokesman for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that retention is at an all-time high, and that Merrill Lynch is still actively recruiting advisers.

“Despite the number of advisers in the industry shrinking, Merrill Lynch has recruited more than 150 experienced advisers in 2015, while attrition is at historic lows,” Mr. Card said.

This includes the hiring of nearly 20 advisers in the Los Angeles area by Merrill Lynch in the past year, including Bruce Munster and his team from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.


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