A Merrill Lynch advisor team with $750 million in assets has moved over to the Focus Financial Partners network.

Advisors Herman Rij, Jason Cort, Brian Cort and Kori Lannon, working from their newly-formed Quadrant Private Wealth of Bethlehem, Pa., made the switch this month. Rij, the senior-most member of the team, started his career in 1969, according to FINRA records. He joined Merrill in 1971.  Cort joined the wirehouse in 1997, and his brother Brian became a Merrill advisor in 2002. Lannon signed on in 2007.

The advisors were the fifth group to join Focus through its transition program, Focus Connections. They follow IFM Capital Advisors, a former UBS team managing $1 billion in assets, which left the wirehouse to join the Focus network in January.

"The elite are voting with their feet. The best of the best advisors are leaving the wirehouses," says Focus CEO Rudy Adolf. "The momentum is terrific in the breakaway space."

In recent months other wirehouse advisor teams managing large AUMs have joined independent firms like Lebenthal, and networks such as HighTower. Industry observers say independence has become a more viable option, because independent networks can better compete on products and services.

"When I worked at the wirehouses for 20 years, we never thought about independence because it was a joke, and for small fries. It's simply not the case today," notes Tony Sirianni, founder and managing partner of consulting firm Sirianni Strategy Group. He also is a former Morgan Stanley complex manager.

Sirianni adds, "If you have a large team that has been doing business a long time, then they wouldn't be leaving unless they thought they could grow their business."

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