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$300M Merrill team departs for Raymond James

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Raymond James scooped up a team that managed $300 million in client assets from Merrill Lynch, the regional firm said.

Advisers Joseph DiVestea and Mark Mezzone, along with two other associates, will join the New York Metro complex in Mount Kisco upon its expected opening in spring 2017, according to the company. The team operates as DiVestea Wealth Partners of Raymond James, and is temporarily based in Danbury, Conn.

The move happened prior to the Department of Labor's release of guidelines on the fiduciary rule that targeted back-end awards common in the recruiting deals of many large firms, particularly the wirehouses. The department said that such awards can create conflicts of interest between advisers and clients. Only deals made after the guidelines were issued on Oct. 26 would be impacted.

An industry veteran with 26 years of industry experience, DiVestea was also appointed managing director and senior vice president of investments. The four-member team will report to complex manager Jeff Zelin.

DiVestea says they chose Raymond James for its “strong culture” and commitment to client service. “Here, we have the flexibility to brand ourselves as financial planners and showcase how we can differentiate ourselves from the competition.”

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He said he was especially impressed by the firm’s handbook, "A Raymond James Client’s Bill of Rights," which confirmed for him that he had made the right decision for his team and clients.

DiVestea got his start in financial services at Lehman Brothers in 1990, FINRA BrokerCheck records show, and continued on to its post-merger firm Smith Barney, where he worked for 17 years before moving to Merrill Lynch in 2007.

Adviser Mezzone is a relative newcomer to the industry, having started at Merrill two years ago. He previously interned at the wirehouse under DiVestea while in college, according to Raymond James.

Client service associate Maureen Macomber also moved with the team from Merrill, and has spent 18 years with DiVestea Wealth Partners. Associate Michael Rodriguez joined the group this year.

A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch confirmed the team’s departure but declined to comment further.

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