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$400M Merrill Lynch team latest to go indie

Advisor Blaine Werner says he used to think going independent was daunting, but he found the help his team needed in tru Independence. “Instead of reinventing the wheel, I just picked the hubcaps.” Pictured from left to right: Linda Brackett, Teri Hughes, Blaine Werner, Holly Matus and Werner’s daughter Margo Werner.
Advisor Blaine Werner says he used to think going independent was daunting, but he found the help his team needed in tru Independence. “Instead of reinventing the wheel, I just picked the hubcaps.” Pictured from left to right: Linda Brackett, Teri Hughes, Blaine Werner, Holly Matus and Werner’s daughter Margo Werner.
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A former Merrill Lynch team that managed $400 million in client assets is going independent with the help of tru Independence, an open architecture RIA platform, according to the firm.

The group, led by Blaine Werner, is known as 44 Wealth Management, representing the 44 years it has been servicing clients. Werner built his 43-year career at Merrill Lynch, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. He is joined by his daughter Margo Werner, as well as client associates Linda Brackett, Teri Hughes, and Holly Matus. Stacy Sizemore is the team’s chief compliance officer. They are located in Eugene, Oregon.

To assist his team’s move to the independent channel, Werner looked at a number of firms before settling on tru Independence. He pointed to the firm’s technology and research as reasons he picked it over competitors.

Werner says that taking the first steps toward his new career move were the hardest.

“In the past, the idea of starting my own firm was daunting. I would have needed to reinvent the wheel,” Wener says. “Now, with support available through tru, I get as little or as much support as I want. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I just picked the hubcaps.”

“tru Independence offers a buffet, and that appealed to me,” he added. “They have the capabilities to manage a turn-key transition. I chose to ‘order off the menu’ and not do the prix fixe dinner. Just knowing that at any point they could jump in and take over something in the transition that was not manageable, gave me the confidence to continue the move forward.”

His team serves multi-generational families and business owners, specializing in legacy planning for clients looking to pass assets to the next generation and charitable organizations.

Werner says he is looking forward to working with his daughter. “We are using this opportunity to build 44 Wealth into a generational business serving generations.”

Despite the pandemic, wirehouse advisors are open to making career moves. One recent hire was an ex-Merrill Lynch team that managed $530 million in client assets who joined Sanctuary in August. That same month, Baird signed a team from Morgan Stanley who managed $280 million, and an advisor from Wells Fargo who oversaw $279 million.

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