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Merrill Lynch loses $143M team to Ameriprise

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Two Merrill Lynch advisors who managed $143 million in assets quit for Ameriprise, the regional firm said.

David Schrader and Frank DeFranco’s departure from Merrill Lynch is part of an ongoing exodus of wirehouse advisors to smaller regional firms and independent brokerages. Perceived greater efficiency and better culture are often cited as reasons for making the move. Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and UBS have all reported shrinking headcount compared to a year ago.

Schrader and DeFranco joined Ameriprise’s Saddle Brook, New Jersey office in October. In 2008, the duo jumped to Merrill Lynch from Morgan Stanley, where both of them began their career. Schrader has 20 years of industry experience and DeFranco has 17 years.

A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch could not be reached immediately for comment.

Schrader said the team made the move because Ameriprise has “all of the capabilities of a wirehouse with the more personal feel of a boutique firm.” He added that the regional firm’s investment options, including those for separately managed accounts, annuities, and mutual funds impressed them.

Regional firms like Ameriprise and RBC have been recruiting aggressively to take advantage of hiring cutbacks at wirehouses. Last month, Ameriprise poached a $369-million team from Wells Fargo.

Merrill Lynch, like Morgan Stanley, announced hiring cutbacks earlier this year and is shifting strategy to get the most from existing advisors. It recently changed its compensation plan to incentive advisors to bring in new clients and retire at the firm, while penalizing those who fail to do so.

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