Advisors Jason Redpath, Troy Neat & Steven Spaeth (Photo: Morgan Stanley)

The recruiting scene is following the stock market and, unlike the weather on the East Coast, continues to heat up.

Morgan Stanley said it added the NRS Wealth Management Group from Merrill Lynch on Jan. 20. The team consists of three financial advisors who have combined yearly fees and commissions of nearly $4.6 million and about $600 million in client assets.

W. Troy Neat, Jason Redpath and Steven Spaeth now work for Morgan Stanley in Kenwood, Ohio (near Cincinnati). Neat was with Merrill for about 22 years, having joined the firm in 1994. Redpath spent the last 15 years as part of the Thundering Herd, and Spaeth worked Merrill from 1995 to 1999 and then rejoined it in 2005.

This news comes just a few days after RBC Wealth Management said it had recruited two advisors from Merrill in Minneapolis with over $1 million in yearly fees and commissions and about $145 million in assets under management.

In the fourth quarter, Morgan Stanley Wealth said it had about 15,760 advisors. Average annualized revenue (or fees and commissions) per FA was $1.01 million as of Dec. 30.

Meanwhile, Merrill said the average production level of its roughly 14,630 registered representatives stood at $996,000 — with veteran advisors averaging production of $1.25 million.

Rival UBS says its 7,025 advisors bring in $1.17 million of yearly fees and commissions.

Fiduciary Rule Prompts Changes

Morgan Stanley has said its retirement-account clients can work with commissions or fees in the future and that it will be lowering some charges for trades. Merrill Lynch has said it plans to end commission-based retirement accounts.

“With or without the rule, we fundamentally believe that serving our clients well and continuing to lead the industry forward require that we provide an increasingly higher standard of care for our clients across both retirement and non-retirement assets. To that end, and regardless of any potential delay, we will continue to move ahead in three important areas in the coming months,” explained Shelley O’Connor and Andy Saperstein, co-heads of the wealth management unit, in a recent memo.

For its part, Merrill Lynch says that its move to end commission-based retirement accounts is part of its “heightened standard of care.”