UBS Lands $2-Million Team of Merrill Boomerangs in New York City
A team of New York City brokers who have twice sojourned with Merrill Lynch jumped ship on Thursday to UBS Financial Services in a sign that the latter’s recruiting window remains open despite the firm’s decision to cut U.S. broker recruiting costs.
Scott Zelniker and Peter Dorfman, who with two other brokers and an associate were based at Merrill’s downtown Manhattan headquarters, generated around $2 million in revenue in the 12-months prior to this week’s jump, according to a source at Merrill familiar with their business.
Reached at his new UBS haunt in midtown Manhattan, Zelniker declined to comment.
Spokespeople at UBS and Merrill did not return requests for comment.
The move raised some eyebrows because large brokerage firms have been recalibrating offers in light of a new Department of Labor rule that prohibits deferred recruiting bonuses tied to hitting production targets over future years as well as UBS’s budgetary priorities. Two recruiters who asked for anonymity said that the Swiss-owned brokerage is nevertheless honoring deals with brokers who signed commitments prior to October 27 when the DOL explained its recruiting restrictions.
“I suspect this was one of those, perhaps the last,” said one of the recruiters who works with UBS but was not involved in the move of the Zelniker & Dorfman Group. In addition to the named partners, the team includes brokers Molly Helgren and Ryan Lynch, and client associate Jolene Tepedino.
The team does a significant structured-products business, selling alternative investments that tend to carry high fees or commissions and are vulnerable to the new fiduciary rule and to Merrill’s decision to end commissions in retirement accounts.
Zelniker and Dorfman’s brokerage careers followed a similar trajectory, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck database.
Zelniker first worked as a broker at Merrill in 1992, jumped to Smith Barney in 1998 and returned to Merrill in 2006. Dorfman joined Merrill Lynch in 1998 and partnered with Zelniker at Smith Barney after joining the Citigroup unit in 2000. Both returned to Merrill in 2006, where they presumably signed now-expiring retention packages that the firm gave brokers during the financial crisis, said the Merrill source.
Helgren joined Merrill in 2014, after working since 2010 at an independent firm affiliated with LPL Financial, according to BrokerCheck. Lynch entered the brokerage industry when he joined Merrill in 2015, according to the database.
Jed Horowitz contributed to the story.