Merrill Continues to Bleed Int’l Teams as Big Group Jumps to Morgan Stanley
Another large team from Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s international unit has jumped ship in light of changes last summer for U.S.-based advisors working with clients abroad.
The Enriquez Cortina Group, led by long-time Merrill brokers Martin Enriquez and Miguel Cortina, joined Morgan Stanley Wealth Management’s Oak Park complex Houston last week, Enriquez confirmed. The two, along with three staffers who also moved, managed $600 million in assets, mostly for clients in Mexico, a Morgan Stanley spokeswoman confirmed.
They are the latest in a long list of teams who have exited following new restrictions Merrill placed around international business last summer. In addition to joining Morgan Stanley, other former colleagues have opted to start their own advisory firms or joined smaller independent broker-dealers.
“[Moving] was a way for us to keep growing our business,” Enriquez said when reached at his new office. “Morgan Stanley is one of the few available right now that really want to grow this business.”
A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch did not return a request for comment.
Although Merrill Lynch brokers are still allowed to work with clients in Mexico, new accounts need a minimum of $2.5 million and existing accounts under $1 million were closed, Enriquez said. While most of their clients were over $1 million in assets, the $2.5 million requirement made it difficult to bring on new accounts, and Merrill also required them to close their accounts in Europe, he said.
Enriquez estimated that around 120 brokers remain in Merrill’s international unit, which had around 300 advisors before the changes were made last summer. Many who weathered the first round of changes are still evaluating their options and concerned about additional changes in 2017.
“Everyone is talking about what the next step is,” he said.
Merrill Lynch officials have said they expected attrition as they were looking to turn the unit into more of a private banking operation catering to ultra-wealthy clients.
Morgan Stanley also tightened restrictions on international accounts, but the changes were less severe. New accounts require a relatively lower minimum of $1 million in assets, Enriquez said. Morgan Stanley last week 26 staff members to help with product and support for advisors working with international clients.
Enriquez started his career at Merrill Lynch in 1987, and Cortina joined Merrill Lynch in 2003, according to BrokerCheck.
Enriquez said he is not involved in a pending class action filed by three former Merrill Lynch international brokers in Florida.