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Merrill Reunites With Advisor it Previously Discharged

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Merrill Lynch reunited with an advisor that the firm had discharged 14 years ago.

The wirehouse said that it recruited two Morgan Stanley advisors, Brad Nettune and Trey Whipple, last week in Summit, N.J.  

According to a note in his BrokerCheck record, Merrill discharged Nettune in 2001 "because he exercised time and price discretion in a client's account in violation of firm policy."

The firm declined to provide AUM or production figures for the advisors, and could not immediately respond to requests for comment with regard to Nettune's previous history with the wirehouse.

Nettune has only one client complaint, which was withdrawn, according to his BrokerCheck record. He found employment at Bear Stearns and later UBS, according to BrokerCheck. When Nettune moved from UBS to Morgan in 2011, On Wall Street reported that he oversaw about $500 million in client assets at the time.

Sources familiar with the matter say that Merrill's management looked at his records and decided it wasn't a severe case. The sources also note the lack of client complaints on his record and that other firms were also previously willing to hire him.

But, it's rare for firms to hire back advisors who have left the firm, let alone fired, recruiters say.

"It's weird. The fact that a firm would take you back after terminating you is highly unusual," says recruiter Ron Edde.

"I don't know that I've seen Merrill take back someone it previously terminated," Edde adds. "That could either speak to the desperation right now to recruit. Or it's also possible that they did some further research, looked at documents and said 'Well, we shouldn't have terminated this advisor.'"

According to Nettune's website on Morgan Stanley, which was still available Friday morning, he had been a Chairman's Club member while at UBS. His bio notes his time at Bear Stearns, but makes no mention of his previous service while at Merrill.

Whipple started his advisory career at Morgan in 1996, according to BrokerCheck.

The duo now reports to Jim Hughes, market executive at Merrill.

This is not the first advisor to reunite with Merrill this year. The wirehouse recruited two UBS advisors who generated more than $1.5 million in revenue. One of the two, Anthony Chevalier, started his career at Merrill in 1994, according to BrokerChecks. Chevalier and his partner, Vance Whitby, worked at the firm until 2007, when they left for UBS.

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