With Clock Ticking on New Hires, Merrill Lands Jumbo UBS Teams
Two top-producing teams from UBS Financial Services jumped to Merrill Lynch on Friday, getting in just under the wire as Merrill closes the window on new recruits.
Merrill, which said last month that it would not accept new candidates into its pipeline after June 1, brought in a trio in Chicago with around $3 billion in assets, according to two sources familiar with their move. In New York, Merrill hired another UBS team with $1 billion under management, according to an announcement on Friday from Merrill.
The Chicago advisors, F. Michael Covey III, Thomas Kane and Mark Wiktor, joined Merrill after producing roughly $10.8 million in annual revenue, according to two sources familiar with the move. The three, all of whom are Lehman Brothers veterans, had been with UBS since 2007, according to their Financial Industry BrokerCheck reports. They were part of UBS’ private wealth unit and join Merrill’s Private Banking and Investment Group, which works with clients who generally have around $10 million or more in assets.
In New York, the duo of Joseph Gabriele and Paul Vasady-Kovacs, who generated $7 million in production from the $1 billion in assets they manage for high-net-worth clients, joined Merrill’s Rockefeller Center office, Merrill said in a statement announcing the move. The team had also been with UBS since 2007, according to BrokerCheck.
The teams did not know one another and did not coordinate their moves, the sources said. The three in Chicago, who generated around $10.8 million in annual fees and commissions, had been evaluating their options for around a year and left because UBS’s bank did not offer commercial lending products that they needed for their business-owning clients, the sources said. The group has 75 accounts for ultra-wealthy clients, according to one of the sources.
A UBS spokeswoman did not return multiple requests for comment. A Merrill spokeswoman confirmed the Chicago team joined but declined to comment on assets or production.
Reached at the New York office, Vasady-Kovacs declined to comment on his motives for moving or why the group selected Merrill Lynch.
Vasady-Kovacs and Gabriele have worked together for close to 20 years, when Vasady-Kovacs began his career at Tucker Anthony, according to Merrill’s announcement.
Gabriele has more than four decades of experience. According to BrokerCheck, he started his career in 1976 at Stoever Glass & Co., a firm focused on municipal bonds. In 1979, he and two colleagues co-founded Gabriele Hueglin & Cashman, a municipal bond dealer and underwriter, which was acquired by Tucker Anthony in 1986. Gabriele stayed with Tucker Anthony through its 2002 acquisition by RBC Dain Rauscher but left along with Vasady-Kovacs in 2007 to join UBS.
Merrill is offering recruiting deals of as much as 150% upfront for top producers, recruiters have said. The deals are down from the peak of well over 300% seen prior to last October, but still offer back-end bonuses in some cases for growing non-retirement assets, in line with guidance from the Department of Labor in October, recruiters said.
Those offers, however, are expiring and Merrill is expected to roll out a revised deal structure when it resumes recruiting, according to well-placed sources at the firm, who said that Merrill was hoping its decision to temporarily stall recruiting would turn up the heat on those who might have been considering a move.