(Photo: AP)

Stifel Financial continues to add Merrill Lynch advisors to its Texas offices. The firm said it recently added one advisor near Houston and two in McAllen with a total of $332 million in client assets.

Lamar Morris — who spent the past 22 years with Merrill — is now in Stifel’s  Sugar Land Private Client Group office, where he’ll work with about $149 million in client assets.  

Stifel opened the branch in May 2019 when Bart Reese and Zach Williams, a $571 million team, moved to the broker-dealer from Merrill. 

“I have known and worked with Lamar for nearly two decades and … am confident [he] will successfully transition the majority of his clients here just as we did,” according to Reese, the location’s branch manager.

“The growth of Stifel throughout Texas has been robust, and we are excited to contribute to that growth here in Sugar Land,” Reese added.

Meanwhile in South Texas (also known as the Rio Grande Valley), Stifel recruited former Merrill advisors Cole Abbott and Adrienne Stewart. The two, who manage about $183 million, are part of Stifel’s 16th location in the Lone Star State. 

Abbott spent 20 years at Merrill, while Stewart spent seven. The duo made the move with Diana Rodriguez, a client service associate. 

In addition, Gary Dennis moved to Stifel’s branch in Flint, Michigan, from Ameriprise Financial, where he was responsible for $41 million in client assets. He has roughly 25 years of industry experience and spent the past 14 with Ameriprise Financial and Ameriprise Advisor Services, after working for Morgan Stanley for nearly a decade, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Woodbury Affiliate Adds Father-Daughter Team

Woodbury Financial Services, part of the Advisor Group network of broker-dealers, says its affiliate GCG Wealth Management recruited Brinkley Financial Group — based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and working with $115 million in client assets. Brinkley Financial used to work with Cambridge Investment Research, according to BrokerCheck records. 

GCG has some 31 advisors and $1.3 billion in total client assets, up from $900 million about a year ago and $500 million three years ago. 

“We are thrilled to see GCG building on its growth momentum with this significant addition to their firm. Joel Burris and his team show no signs of slowing down, and we expect that they will continue to notch recruiting wins in the near future … ,” according to Jamie Price, President and CEO of Advisor Group.

Brinkley Financial led by David Brinkley, who has been an advisor for 33 years, and includes daughter Carrie Brinkley Jones, who has 12 years of industry experience. 

Founded in 1994, GCG developed a flexible affiliation model, which gives advisors the option to join the firm as W-2 employees and affiliate with Woodbury as independent financial advisors.

(Brinkley is not joining the group via this model.) 

“I have recently been working to develop a strong succession plan for my practice and my clients,” he said. “When I decide to transition into retirement, I am confident that my clients – many of whom have been with me for decades – will be in great hands with GCG.”

New Consulting Group

Separately, BridgeMark Strategies CEO Jeff Nash, and The Higher Line CEO Steve Pirigy have formed the consulting group Ignition Point Partners that focuses on outsourcing “expertise to heads of business development and CEOs focused on evaluating and increasing their recruiting and acquisition efforts.”

“With the intensifying ‘recruiting wars’ between firms underway, IBDs and RIAs face rising pressures to significantly improve their recruiting results, even as recruiting costs and other expenses continue to increase,” Nash said in a statement. “We have formed Ignition Point to address what has become one of the largest pain points in the independent wealth management space today.”

Ignition Point’s services include “marketplace benchmarking, recruiter optimization, sales enablement and business-development process enhancement,” according to the firm. 

“There is a highly competitive recruiting marketplace in today’s wealth management space, so IBDs and RIAs are always looking for an advantage in terms of bringing the best advisors onto their platforms,” Pirigyi explained in a statement. “This can be through more timely market intelligence, better recruitment processes, more attractive service offerings and incentives, or all of the above.”

The two consulting execs will continue to run BridgeMark Strategies and The Higher Line as separate businesses under their own brands.