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Indie space lures $200M advisor from Merrill Lynch

By Amanda Schiavo

Merrill Lynch has lost some more talent, this time to an independent firm affiliated with Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, the bank's IBD.

Dennis Hall left Merrill for Florham Park Wealth Advisors in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Hall made the move in 2017. He brings more than two decades of industry experience and over $200 million in client assets to the new firm, according to a spokesperson.

The independent channel has seen an influx of talent in recent months as advisors leave larger bank-owned firms for what they say is the greater flexibility offered by RIAs and IBDs. Regional firms have also benefited from a similar migration of talent. For its part, Merrill Lynch recently lost an advisor managing $262 million to Raymond James. The wirehouse also lost two advisors to J.P. Morgan Securities earlier this month. They were part of a team overseeing about $2 billion.

Merrill Lynch did not respond to a request for comment on this most recent departure.

Hall made the decision to leave Merrill when it became clear that the firm was pushing advisors toward proprietary models, which he says he wasn’t comfortable with. Hall also didn’t like that Merrill was moving private equity out of retirement accounts and into Pensco Trust.

He felt the independent space was where he needed to be in order to better serve his clients, who are mostly high-net-worth investors.

At Florham, Hall says he will “be able to run a business where I can give my clients the flexibility and the freedom to invest” without any restrictions.

“I didn’t want to go to a Morgan Stanley or a Wells on the brokerage side,” Hall says. “I considered it briefly but I didn’t want the same thing to happen there six months, a year, or even two or three years down the road that I felt had started to happen at Merrill Lynch.”

Hall's relationship with Florham partner and managing principal Jack Wiener was also a contributing factor in his decision. The pair had previously worked together 26 years ago.

Hall spent 20 years with Merrill Lynch, joining in 1996, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. Before joining that firm he was part of Gibraltar Securities for two years and HYM Financial for a year before that.

To read this story on Financial Planning, click here.