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Merrill breakaway launches RIA with an eye on cross-border wealth

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An ex-Merrill Lynch adviser opened a new RIA under Dynasty Financial Partners in the fifth new firm launched through Dynasty’s outsourcing platform this year.

Xerxes Mullan, a former Merrill private banking investment group broker, launched Avestar Capital in New York on Friday alongside five other ex-Merrill staffers. Dynasty now has 42 RIAs on its network, compared to 20 firms on that of rival HighTower.

The large group of breakaway RIAs that “had done it successfully” with Dynasty prompted Mullan to choose the firm, he says. His company will focus, in part, on cross-border wealth planning, particularly clients with inheritances or investments in both the U.S. and India.
“We noticed that this is a segment that has been underserved by our industry,” says Mullan, 42. “One of the niche areas of our business will be in that space.”

A spokeswoman for Merrill declined to comment on the departures by Mullan and his team.
Avestar Wealth will charge portfolio clients between 0.05% to 3% of assets under management, according to its first SEC filings. A Dynasty spokeswoman declined to state the company’s AUM, noting Dynasty works only with firms that have more than $300 million in AUM.

Mullan had worked at Merrill for 13 years after beginning his career in the industry at Goldman Sachs in 2002, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

To fill out the new RIA, he hired Tonya Smoake as COO, Sanjeet Das and Jennifer Wolf as vice presidents and Alexa Cark and Sonia Krauss as client service analysts.

“As an independent firm, Avestar will be able to provide its clients with services that go beyond traditional wealth planning by creating access to business and investment opportunities and by handling complex global planning issues,” Dynasty CEO Shirl Penney said in a statement.

The biggest advisers to go it alone this year managed over $13 billion in client assets.
December 20

The firm recruited an RIA founded by two insurance agents to its platform earlier this month, and a trio of ex-wirehouse advisers started a new firm with Dynasty’s help late last month.

Solo practices opened by a former Morgan Stanley adviser and a former Claybrook Capital broker comprise Dynasty’s other two additions thus far in 2017.

HighTower has been nearly as active over the same time frame, collecting three new firms with ex-wirehouse founders into its network. A fourth breakaway team joined HighTower Advisors as an equity channel partner from Merrill last week.

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