October 22, 2012

Merrill Grabs $2.5B Morgan Stanley Team

The group is led by Rebecca Rothstein and is based in Beverly Hills

Bank of America (BAC)-Merrill Lynch said Monday that ex-Morgan Stanley advisor Rebecca Rothstein joined the firm.

Rebecca RothsteinRothstein (left), who was with Morgan Stanley for 13 years and with Alex Brown for 10, has come on board as a managing director and private-wealth advisor in Merrill’s Private Banking and Investments Group office in Beverly Hills, Calif.

The team includes five advisors and six other staff members. It manages about $2.5 billion in assets.

According to BofA, Rothstein cited the “broad lending platform and the strong capabilities of its private banking group as the reasons she joined the firm, noting strong client demand for these offerings.”

In late August, Rothstein was reportedly in contact with Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman about a list of grievances affecting some 40 advisors at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, now Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, according to a Reuters news story. The list included technology issues affecting trading, account statements and other problems, which the advisors considered serious enough to prompt them to consider leaving the firm.

Morgan Stanley’s third-quarter number of financial advisors stood at 16,829—down 1%, or 105, from 16,934 in the second quarter and 5%, or 832, from 17,661 a year ago. Average yearly fees and commissions is $790,000 at Morgan Stanley versus $910,000 for Merrill Lynch’s advisors, which number 16,076 (excluding those in consumer and business banking).

Among the 11 people on her team, Rothstein works with Managing Director and partner Mark Varo and two of her four sons, Evan and David Rothstein.

The team has been together for 17 years, Merrill says, and the practice focuses on estate, tax and financial planning, especially in the entertainment and real estate industries.

Rothstein also works extensively with corporate officers and directors on liquidity and diversification strategies for concentrated positions. In addition, she sits on five charitable boards and is a founding board member and chairwoman of the board of Teen Cancer America, an organization championed by rock legends Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

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