Merrill’s Las Vegas Complex Manager Leaves
A manager who returned to Merrill Lynch in 2015 to run its Las Vegas-area complex left his post 10 days ago in the apparent aftermath of a mismanaged customer hedge-fund investment, according to people familiar with the circumstances.
Michael C. Casey, who oversaw the Sierra Nevada complex of eight offices in Nevada and California’s Central Valley, packed up his desk in Las Vegas in mid-July without explanation from himself or other managers to brokers or staff, the people said.
Sources within Merrill and at a competitor said Casey’s departure relates to a junior branch employee’s arrangement of a hedge fund investment of more than $15 million by an Asian investor that ultimately could not be funded. Last August, the complex’s administrative manager, William Devine, was terminated for “failure to conduct adequate due diligence related to supervisory review of the suitability of a customer investment,” according to his BrokerCheck record.
Casey confirmed that he is no longer acting as a complex manager but said there is “more to the story” that will come out over time. He declined to provide details or comment on a report that regulators are looking into the issue.
One person who claimed familiarity with the details said Casey was asked to approve a trade execution relating to the hedge fund while Devine was away.
Devine did not respond to a request for comment.
The departures cast renewed light on the increasing challenges for supervisors and field managers as firms become more sensitive to regulatory scrutiny and potential lawsuits.
A person answering the phone at Casey’s former Las Vegas office said he has not been replaced.
Casey spent the first 22 years of his 30-year brokerage career at Merrill in Missouri, including work as a producing manager in St. Louis between 2003 and 2010, according to his LinkedIn profile. He left in 2009 for a five-month stint at Wells Fargo Advisors in Kansas City and jumped to Morgan Stanley before returning to Merrill in April 2015, according to his BrokerCheck profile.
“Merrill Lynch is my home,” Casey said in a press release announcing his return. “I like the people and their spirit of doing what is best for their client.”
Tom Fickinger, who had run Merrill’s Pacific Northwest division that included the SIerra Nevada complex, left the company in May after 30 years, according to BrokerCheck. It is unclear if his departure was connected to the events believed to be affecting Casey.
Fickinger’s duties as division head ended in March when new Merrill Lynch Wealth Management head Andy Sieg reorganized the sales organization and eliminated the Pacific Northwest and three other divisions
Only one of the heads of the four eliminated divisions, Ben Prince, remains at Merrill.