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Merrill Lynch loses elite teams with $2.5B to Rockefeller Capital

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Rockefeller’s recruiting efforts are gaining steam as the firm brings on a batch of brokers from Merrill Lynch.

The following 17 teams oversaw about $75 billion in assets. The firms ending the year with prize recruits include a diverse cast: regional BDs, wirehouses, boutiques and RIAs.
December 14

As Rockefeller builds out its new wealth management operation, the firm has targeted its recruiting efforts at elite advisors who cater to the ultrahigh-net-worth clients and its most recent hires fit the mold.

David Higgins has been on the Top 40 Advisors Under 40 ranking by On Wall Street; he was named by Forbes as a top advisor last year; and he was also a Barron’s top advisor and listed as having team assets of approximately $1.7 billion. William Curtis, another Rockefeller hire, was on Forbes’ Best-In-State Wealth Advisors in 2018, and listed as having team assets of $802 million.

A spokesperson for Rockefeller declined to disclose the advisors’ current AUM.

The teams — dubbed the Higgins Hall Group and the Embleton Curtis Quackenbush Group — joined Rockefeller in Atlanta, where the firm is working to expand its presence. The company hired a $2.2 billion UBS team in the same location late last year.

“Rockefeller is pleased to add two high-caliber private wealth teams in Atlanta, an important market where we see growing opportunity to provide an elevated level of sophistication and trusted advice to individuals and families of meaningful wealth,” Rockefeller Capital Management CEO Greg Fleming said in a statement.

The seven-member Higgins Hall Group includes advisor Michael Hall. The team was previously part of Merrill Lynch’s Private Banking & Investment Group, a unit that caters to wealthy clients.

In addition to Curtis, the eight-member Embleton Curtis Quackenbush Group is led by John Embleton, P. Schuyler Quackenbush Jr. and Evan Georgiou.

The teams made move on Jan. 18, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

Merrill Lynch declined to comment on the moves.

In its most recent earnings report, the firm said that it is experiencing record low advisor attrition.

Rockefeller, meanwhile, is on a recruiting spree, pulling executives and advisors from Merrill Lynch and other big wealth management firms. Managing director Anthony Grosso joined Rockefeller from Merrill in late December to build out the firm’s San Francisco office. That same month, Rockefeller recruited the $2.2 billion team from UBS.

Fleming also has a wirehouse pedigree, having previously served as the president of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Merrill Lynch. He joined Rockefeller in 2017 to spearhead the company’s efforts to build out its wealth management business.

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