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Merrill promotes executives in private wealth unit — but loses one longtime manager

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Merrill Lynch bid farewell to a longtime manager in a key New York office, but promoted several others, including some in its private wealth unit.

The changes are intended to give the firm greater opportunities for capturing growth in the highly competitive ultrahigh-net-worth client segment.

“In certain areas of the country, we are seeing a rapid rise in the numbers of wealthy individuals. With that comes complex needs,” says Don Plaus, head of Merrill Private Wealth Management, International and Institutional.

Advisors have an opportunity to help ultrawealthy clients navigate that complexity. “They have sophisticated needs and expect a great level of service,” says Plaus, who oversees approximately 390 private wealth advisors.

Among the management changes the firm made, Mollie Colavita was named head of private wealth services and will oversee family office services, wealth strategists and the firm’s Center for Family Wealth, according to a memo seen by On Wall Street.

The Center for Family Wealth helps wealthy families with the emotional side of money, among other things. The center has a long-running bootcamp to help families prepare for wealth transfers. “The things they keep delivering for their clients [are] so impressive,” Plaus says.

Plaus adds that Colavita is a longtime Merrill employee. Based on her previous experience at the firm, she is “uniquely suited to lead this group,”he says.

In other management changes, Northeast Regional Managing Director Greg McGauley saw his remit expand to include private wealth operations in the New York metropolitan region. McGauley oversees private wealth in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

Josh Moody, a market executive, will now also serve as regional managing director of Merrill’s ’s Florida private wealth management region. Moody will also join Plaus’ leadership team, according to the memo.

Mike Nies, a regional managing director in the firm’s Southeast division, will also lead the firm’s Global Corporate Institutional Advisory Services unit, which services institutional accounts.

Andres de Corral, a regional managing director, is taking on additional responsibilities, leading the firm’s international wealth advisor teams.

Lastly, the firm unveiled a new mid-Atlantic region and is looking to add a regional managing director to oversee it, according to the memo.

Elsewhere at the wirehouse, Paul Sullivan, former market executive for the firm’s SD Market, located in downtown Manhattan, parted ways with Merrill after 34 years, a spokesman confirmed.

Sullivan did not respond to a request for comment.

He is being replaced by Michael Simonds, according to Merrill Lynch.

Michael Simonds is taking over as market executive for Merrill Lynch’s SD Market in downtown Manhattan.

Sullivan joined the company in 1986, working his way up from client associate to financial advisor and later into management. Sullivan had been in his most current role since 2008, according to his LinkedIn profile. At the time of his departure, Sullivan oversaw about 160 financial advisors, 60 client associates, six wealth management bankers and several product specialists operating from two offices, also according to his LinkedIn profile.

Simonds joined Merrill Lynch in 2010 from Smith Barney. Like Sullivan, he worked his way from advisor to management. Simonds led Merrill’s Rockefeller Center office for the past nine years, according to the firm. In 2018, he was named a top branch manager by On Wall Street.

Courtney McCarthy, who has served as the associate market manager for Rockefeller Center, will take his place as leader for that office, according to Merrill Lynch.

The company also made several changes in the leadership of its private wealth management business, according to a memo seen by On Wall Street.

Some of the moves were first reported by AdvisorHub.

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