RBC Nabs Merrill Team in Wisconsin with 1.8 Billion Book

25 Feb    Investing News

RBC Wealth Management-U.S. has hired a 16-person team that had been managing $1.8 billion in client assets in Merrill Lynch’s Green Bay, Wis., branch, according to an RBC spokeswoman.

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The team in the small office is led by Mike Busick, who ranked this year as Forbes’ top Merrill advisor in Wisconsin.

Joining him as RBC’s largest Wisconsin team (by people and potential AUM) on Friday were advisors Robert D. Cummings, Richard E. Vezina and David J. Tilkens, the spokeswoman said. A source familiar with their practice said they produced $12 million in annual revenue in Merrill’s small-market communities “region.”

Busick’s website at Merrill also includes two “senior consultants, Mary L. Zaborski and Robert W. Fisher, who were listed on their Merrill team page but not in RBC’s announcement. That implies they participate in Merrill’s “client transition program” that allows them to earn revenue after agreeing to retire with the firm. Neither returned requests for comment.

“What really attracted us to RBC Wealth Management is the firm’s commitment to a client-first and advisor-centric culture,” Busick said in a prepared statement.

He had been with Merrill for his entire 22-year career prior to Friday’s move, and Vezzina likewise spent his 20 years as a broker with the Thundering Herd. Tilkens was there for 22 of his 24 years in the industry and Cummings for 15 years of his 19-year brokerage career, according to their BrokerCheck histories.

The team also includes advisors Mark Capomaccio, Robert E. Pratel, Trent C. Nelson, Janalee E. Busick, Jacob Cummings, Jordan Kawlewski, Trevor Skaggs and five client associates.

A spokeswoman at Merrill Lynch did not immediately return a request for comment on the departures. Around a dozen advisors remain at Merrill’s Green Bay branch, according to its website.

Merrill on Friday also lost a team with $3 million in revenue in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania to Rockefeller Capital Management’s wealth unit.

Merrill Lynch Wealth President Andy Sieg has said the firm continues with a two-year freeze on hiring experienced brokers, with rare exceptions that often involve hires from private banks rather than brokerage firms.

Merrill no longer breaks out its number of experienced advisors in earnings report of its parent Bank of America, including instead a cumulative number of over 17,000 that includes training program advisors and those who work at the bank itself. Merrill Wealth employed 14,690 experienced wealth advisers the last time it reported the figure in June 2019.

RBC has around 1,800 brokers in its U.S. wealth unit but has been aggressively hiring from its wirehouse rivals with deals that recruiters said can reach up to 300%, including deferred payments for hitting goals over 10 years. The deal includes around 175% in upfront cash, according to a recruiter familiar with their deal.

RBC earlier this month hired a Merrill team with $426 million in assets in Baltimore and another team with $192 million in client assets in Frisco, Texas.

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