Merrill Lynch Advisors Move to UBS and LPL Financial

Merrill Lynch has recently experienced a significant loss as advisors overseeing over $1 billion in assets have left to join competitors UBS and LPL Financial. These recruiting moves have reshaped the landscape for both firms.

UBS Acquires Prominent Merrill Lynch Team

In the most notable move, UBS has successfully acquired a former Merrill Lynch team led by advisors Charlie Bergman and Justine Greenwald. The team, known as BG Wealth Management, handles an impressive $640 million in assets. Their office is based in Pepper Pike, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland.

With 28 years of industry experience, Bergman is a seasoned professional who previously spent 17 years at Merrill Lynch. Prior to that, he worked at Morgan Stanley. On the other hand, Greenwald joined Merrill Lynch from LPL in 2017, as reported by BrokerCheck.

LPL Financial Gains Stronghold in Texas

LPL Financial has also made a noteworthy move by attracting an ex-Merrill team located in Amarillo, Texas. This team, known as the Veritas Legacy Wealth team, oversaw $320 million in client assets. Advisors John Klein, Blake Bailey, and Lavona Kuhn are now part of Strategic Wealth Services (SWS), a unit launched by LPL in 2020 to entice wirehouse advisors with additional support and resources for independent practices.

When asked about their decision to join SWS, Klein expressed enthusiasm about the newfound entrepreneurial freedom. “We’ve always considered ourselves entrepreneurs and really love the idea of having our own firm,” Klein stated. During their due diligence process, finding a partner that prioritized client care was of utmost importance. With SWS taking care of payroll, technology, marketing, and other business aspects, Veritas can wholeheartedly focus on serving their valued clients.

The Veritas Legacy Wealth team now marks the 35th team to join SWS, solidifying the unit’s commitment to empowering and supporting financial advisors.

In summary, Merrill Lynch losing advisors overseeing significant assets to rivals UBS and LPL Financial highlights the evolving dynamics within the industry. The moves showcase the changing priorities of financial professionals, who seek more entrepreneurial opportunities while placing client interests at the forefront.

Merrill Advisors Join LPL Financial

Two Merrill advisors, Klein and Bailey, have made the move to LPL Financial in Falmouth, Maine. They began their careers at Merrill in 2000 and will now join LPL’s independent advisor channel. Kuhn, an industry veteran who has been with Merrill since 1984, partnered with Klein and Bailey in 2002 and will take on the role of advisor emeritus at LPL.

In addition to Klein and Bailey, former Merrill advisor Brendan Wood has also joined LPL’s employee advisor channel, Linsco by LPL, in West Hartford, Conn. Wood, who oversees $130 million in assets, expressed his attraction to the support offered by the Linsco unit. He said, “I want to be able to focus on planning, investing and service, rather than real estate, compliance, and HR matters. With Linsco, I have an entire team working with me so that I can spend more time taking care of clients.” Wood began his career at Merrill in 2007.

UBS has recently ramped up its advisor recruiting efforts after scaling back in previous years due to high costs. LPL Financial has expanded its affiliation options to attract more advisors, reporting a record high advisor headcount of 21,942 at the end of the second quarter.

Note: A Merrill spokeswoman declined to comment on the departures.

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