Steward Partners Global Advisory, an independent partnership associated with Raymond James, says that Rob Carrigg Jr., CFP, has joined the firm in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, from Merrill Lynch. He comes on board with advisor Andrew Small and two staff members, who have managed about $350 million in assets.

The news comes one week after Steward Partners recruited two former Morgan Stanley advisors in Dallas with roughly $285 million in assets and added an 18th location to its growing network.

“We are excited to have a team with the quality of Rob’s join us, as we are seeing lots of interest in our model, which we call independence with infrastructure …,” said Jim Connors, a divisional president of Steward, in an interview. “We think we have built the perfect space [in the industry], and it’s exciting when we get a team like this one, who join us because they see that value.”  

Formed in 2013, Steward now includes 106 advisors with about $11.1 billion in total client assets.    

For Carrigg, who was with Merrill for the past 20 years, making a move from Merrill was “the biggest decision of his life,” so he did “extensive due diligence” on his options.

“We did not want to go to a traditional competitor, which meant we could not differentiate ourselves the environment we were used to being in,” the advisor explained in an interview.

What exactly was Carrigg’s team looking for? “We wanted a robust, open-architecture platform free of conflicts of interest and the flexibility to be more competitive on pricing — since 95% of our business is fee-based advisory work,” he said.

In addition, his group aimed to become part “of a firm primarily in the business of wealth management” and not with a firm where wealth management is just “an afterthought.”

Also, Carrigg’s group was looking “to have the ability to market ourselves using 21st century tools …,” he said, “and to create original content, as well as to do interviews like this one along with blogs and podcasts.”

As for Steward, “Everyone in the firm is pulling for Rob’s success,” according to Connors. “This is a different approach from what advisors are used to seeing in the industry … where, at the wirehouses, they might be seen more as competitors versus collaborators.”