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Merrill Lands $1.4B Ex-Morgan Stanley Team, Advisor

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Merrill Lynch (BAC) says it has picked up both a team in Los Angeles and an advisor in the New York area from Morgan Stanley (MS). On a combined basis, these additions should bring Bank of America Merrill Lynch some $6.7 million in new yearly fees and commissions, as well as $1.4 billion in client assets.

Meanwhile, Stratos Wealth – a hybrid RIA that trades with LPL Financial (LPLA) – recruited a team from Morgan Stanley and a rep from Wells Fargo (WFC) to its partnership with roughly $300 million in combined client assets.

Private wealth advisor Bruce C. Munster recently left Morgan Stanley to join Merrill’s Private Banking and Investment Group; they are based in Century City, California, and have more than $1.2 billion of client assets under management and annual production of about $5.8 million.

Munster moves to Merrill with a nine-person team that includes partners John Paffendorf and David Freeman.

“Merrill Lynch is pleased to have Bruce Munster and his experienced team of wealth management advisors and analysts join our institution,” said Michael A. Rogers, managing director and head of Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking and Investment Group in Los Angeles, in a statement. “Mr. Munster has clearly demonstrated success in the marketplace based on his high level of personal service to clients, ability to lead clients through successful liquidity events and investment results.”

Munster began his financial career 16 years ago with UBS, while Paffendorf started at Merrill about 14 years ago and later moved to both UBS and Morgan Stanley, according to FINRA records. Freeman went into the business at UBS 10 years ago.

“Bank of America can be a party to any sized deal — whether a client needs corporate finance, investment banking or M&A counsel. Joining Bank of America/Merrill Lynch will help open even more meaningful relationships with new and existing clients,” said Munster in a press release.

According to Merrill Lynch, Munster’s team focuses on wealthy families, and its client base includes 60-plus entrepreneurs, inventors and M&A professionals.

Earlier this week, Merrill announced that Haris Hot joined its office in Red Bank, New Jersey, from Morgan Stanley. Hot has managed over $223 million in client assets and has more than $883,200 in annual production. He began work as an advisor in 2003 at Morgan Stanley.

In early January, Morgan Stanley said it recruited the Stephans Van Liew and the Oiler Group, an eight-member team focused on institutional consulting and private wealth management, to its Graystone Consulting office in Chicago from Merrill. The team has helped manage some $6.5 billion in institutional and private client assets.

Stratos Wealth Recuiting

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LPL Financial said early Thursday that Ellsworth Private Wealth Management joined Stratos Wealth Partners, an RIA that uses LPL’s platform. In addition, the financial advisors of Ellsworth will conduct business on LPL’s broker-dealer platform.

Ellsworth Private Wealth Management has about $200 million in fee- and commission-based client assets.

“We are excited to partner with Ellsworth Private Wealth Management and support their move to independence,” said Jeffrey Concepcion, founder and CEO of Beachwood, Ohio-based Stratos Wealth Partners, in a statement. Based in Hudson, Ohio, Ellsworth Private Wealth Management was founded by three veteran wirehouse advisors: Tim Clepper, Kelly Kuennen and Max Schindler, who have more than 40 years of combined industry experience. Clepper and Kuennen were with Morgan Stanley since 2009, while Schindler came on board in 2010, according to FINRA records.

“We are proud to have wonderful, established relationships with our existing clients. As such, we are very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the combined resources of LPL Financial and Stratos Wealth Partners with the goal of continuing to develop our practice into a full service independent advisory firm that offers a comprehensive suite of private wealth management services,” noted Clepper, in a press release.

Earlier in the week, Stratos said advisor Hayley Higgins is joining its operations in the Rancho Bernardo area of California. The former-Wells Fargo advisor has been in the business for 25 years.

She cut her teeth in the financial-services field at Merrill Lynch in 1990 and now has about $100 million in client assets and works with 250 families.

“Stratos Wealth Partners provided an excellent opportunity that aligns with my entrepreneurial spirit,” said Higgins, in a statement. “I now have the ability to work independently as a partner and that was extremely compelling in Stratos’ value proposition as a hybrid RIA.”

“Hayley brings a unique perspective and electric energy to the Stratos team in San Diego,” said Charles Shapiro, founding and managing partner at Stratos Wealth Partners, in a press release. “As a partner, she will be able to focus on growing and managing her own business the way she wants.”

Stratos added 28 advisors to its network in 2014 and currently has some $2.2 billion in advisory assets. It has, through LPL Financial, about $3.8 billion in brokerage and third-party assets.

— Check out Advisor Headcount Falls 5 Years in a Row: Cerulli on ThinkAdvisor.