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20-year Merrill Lynch advisors go indie with former colleague's help

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When Merrill Lynch advisors Martin Rice and Beau Barrett decided to go independent, they took a cue from the Beatles: Try with a little help from friends.

The duo turned to Jim Dickson, a former Merrill Lynch advisor who was a trainee in 1997 alongside Rice.

Rice and Barrett, who managed $240 million, joined Sanctuary Wealth Partners, an advisor network launched in June by Dickson and Matt Reynolds, founding member of HighTower.

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Sanctuary Wealth Partners, owned by broker-dealer David A. Noyes, was formed to help wirehouse advisors go indie, according to Dickson. Since June, the company has taken on eight teams, and it manages nearly $6 billion in client assets, he says. Sanctuary Wealth Partners owns equity in most of the practices, according to Dickson.

Rice and Barrett joined the network because felt their practice was limited at Merrill Lynch, according to Dickson.

“They were frustrated,” he says. “They were looking for flexibility. They were looking for more control.”

Dickson recalled a conversation with Rice when he was looking to switch firms. Rice had told him: “‘When I joined Merrill Lynch, I knew I was in a box, but it was a big box. Over time that box has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller, and now I just don’t fit.’”

The advisors wanted more leeway in their marketing and advice, Dickson says.

In a statement, Rice highlighted having access to different and better technology tools as an additional reason for moving.

Rice and Barrett’s practice is located in the same Indianapolis office space as Sanctuary Wealth Partners. The firm specializes in multi-generational clients, according to a press release about their departure. Registered administrative partner Jan Lasiter is also moving with the practice.

A spokeswoman at Merrill Lynch did not respond to a request for comment.

While three of the teams to join Sanctuary Wealth Partners have been independent practices, and one an acquisition, Dickson expects future growth to come from wirehouse breakaways.

The firm is looking for wirehouse advisors producing at least $1 million a year.

By the end of the year, there should be four or five more teams, Dickson says.

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