Wealth Management

Merrill Lynch recently announced that a $1 million plus producer from Ameriprise Financial has joined its private wealth unit team. Alex Miller, who was part of an Ameriprise Financial team with a billion-dollar book in Houston, joined Merrill’s Massey Schmidt Harper Group in Houston. The team is led by managing director Craig Lambert Massey and has $2.1 billion in team assets. At Ameriprise, Miller was part of Pennington Wealth Management, led by Darrell Pennington. The announcement follows several other new hires at Merrill in recent months, including producers in community markets that are outside its parent Bank of America’s branch footprint and junior brokers with fewer than 12 years of experience. The firm has also expanded its search to include higher offers for veteran brokers. For instance, last month it hired a team of private bankers managing around $1 billion from Citigroup in New York. They also nabbed a million-dollar producer from Morgan Stanley in Huntsville, Alabama, who joined through the firm’s community markets initiative. However, the firm is still seeing several high-producing teams heading for the door.

Finsum:As Merrill Lynchcontinues to lose several high-producing teams, the firm is making a recruiting push with the addition of a $1 million plus producer from Ameriprise Financial.

Last month, LPL Financial announced that it was acquiring Financial Resources Group Investment Services, an LPL branch office that supports financial institutions and advisors. The firm comprises approximately 800 advisors and serves approximately $40 billion of advisory and brokerage assets. Now that deal is paying off as LPL is adding another large team to Financial Resources. The firm was able to lure advisors David Rimkus, Donald Sharko, and Thomas Phelan to LPL and Financial Resources from LaSalle St. Securities. The three-advisor team rebranded its Orland Park, Illinois-based practice as Harbor Lighthouse Wealth Management. Harbor Lighthouse managed about $285 million in client assets at its previous firm and plans to use LPL as its brokerage, registered investment advisor, and custodian, and align with Financial Resources. Rimkus said in an interview that “The choice of Financial Resources enables Harbor Lighthouse to remain part of a firm more closely resembling the size of their prior midsize brokerage even as they became three out of the more than 21,000 advisors with LPL.” He also stated that “The need for technology enabling growth among new and existing clients and succession planning played a role in the move as well.”

Finsum:LPL's recent acquisition of Financial Resources Group is starting to pay dividends as another team of advisors that manages a combined $285 million in assets aligns with the branch.

According to a report by US SIF Foundation, a trade group for the sustainable investment industry, the U.S. market for ESG products is less than half of the size previously reported. Assets in U.S. sustainable investments fell 51% from $17.1 trillion at the beginning of 2020 to $8.4 trillion at the start of 2022. The difference is mainly due to changes in the methodology used to calculate the numbers and the impending tightening of regulation, according to the trade group. Ahead of new fund labeling rules by the SEC, the foundation noted that asset managers were being “more circumspect in what they consider to be assets that incorporate ESG criteria”, which led to “modest to steep” declines in ESG AUM reported compared to 2020. In addition, the 2022 report made a new distinction between firm and fund-level claims to sustainability. For example, it did not include “The AUM of investors that stated they practice firm-wide ESG integration without providing additional information on specific ESG criteria that are used in decision-making and portfolio construction.” Rather, they only included the assets of investors or vehicles that “incorporate one or more specific ESG criteria, plus the assets of funds which specify that ESG or sustainability is integral to its decision-making or portfolio construction.”

Finsum:Due to impending regulatory changes and a new calculation methodology, the U.S. market for ESG products is less than half of the size previously reported.

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