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UBS wins $5.4M team in ongoing recruiting war with Merrill Lynch

UBS landed a Merrill Lynch team that generated more than $5.4 million in annual revenue, marking the latest round in a tit-for-tat recruiting struggle between the two industry giants.

The Swiss firm's new hires are based in Ponte Vedra, Florida. They managed approximately $900 million in client assets and made the move last month, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records.

In recent weeks, Merrill Lynch grabbed two mega teams from UBS that managed more than $4 billion in combined client assets. Merrill made these hires in advance of a planned recruiting slowdown that was to commence this month (Morgan Stanley and UBS have also previously announced similar cutbacks to recruiting efforts).

The teams joined Merrill's offices in New York and Chicago. Both groups also had team members that had been featured in On Wall Street's annual Top 40 Advisers Under 40.

UBS NYC Headquarters Bloomberg News photo
A woman exits the UBS building in New York on June 9, 2003. UBS AG, Europe's largest bank by assets, is dropping the PaineWebber and Warburg brands from its brokerage and investment bank today, scrapping two of the best-known names on Wall Street and in the City of London. Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg News.
On Wall Street annually honors the industry's elite young producers. See which advisors made the cut.
January 11

OFFSETS EARLIER LOSSES
The former UBS teams also helped offset losses Merrill Lynch suffered earlier this year; the firm's brokerage force decreased by 145 advisers from the previous quarter, with many citing restrictions on commission-based retirement accounts as a primary factor in their departures.

UBS's latest recruits include advisers Christopher Aitken, his daughter Shelby, and Ken Tonning as well as senior wealth strategy associates Ian Aguilar and David Ly, and Viktoriya Rudometkin, senior client service associate.

The advisers oversaw nearly $900 million in combined AUM, and moved to Morgan Stanley, Raymond James and HighTower.
April 5

Aitken is an industry veteran, having got his start in the business at Lehman Brothers in 1986, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. He later worked at Smith Barney before transitioning to Merrill in 2009.

Shelby Aitken joined her father at Merrill in 2014, while Tonning had been with the wirehouse since 2009.

RECRUITING IN CROSSHAIRS
Merrill's move to reduce recruiting comes nearly a year after UBS slashed recruiting by about 40% in order to shift resources to the firm's existing advisers. Executives also say they've made efforts to move decision-making closer to the branch level and simplifyy the compensation plan.

However, UBS, which fields a brokerage force of about 7,000 advisers, has continued to recruit selectively. Last month, the Swiss firm said it hired a Merrill Lynch team that generated $2 million in annual revenue and oversaw about $200 million in assets. Michael Miremadi, Christopher Heintz and Teresa Uzeta joined UBS's office in Seal Beach, California.

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