Merrill Nabs Morgan Stanley Michigan Star with $8-Mln Production
Keith Rowling, who at 35 was the top producer at a Morgan Stanley complex in suburban Detroit, left Friday to join rival firm Merrill Lynch.
Colleagues said the move took them by surprise.
“We’re in a scramble” to find an advisor to handle his clients, said a person answering the phones at Rowling’s office on Friday.
“The reaction is not good,” said another person answering the phones at the Birmingham, Mich., complex, which has four offices, including Rowling’s branch in Troy. “He is our biggest producer in the complex.”
Rowling, who was overseeing client assets of more than $610 million and last year produced around $8 million, has been a broker for 14 years, said people familiar with him and the complex. He moved to Merrill’s Bloomfield Hills, Mich., office along with four associates, they said.
A Merrill Lynch spokeswoman confirmed the move and said Rowling was hired by Nathan Marsden, the firm’s market executive in Bloomfield Hills.
Rowling joined Morgan Stanley in 2009 by way of its purchase of Smith Barney, and also has worked at UBS Financial Services, according to BrokerCheck. He started his brokerage career at UBS Paine Webber in 2004 immediately after graduating from Notre Dame, according to his former Morgan Stanley website.
Reached at his new office on Friday morning, Rowling declined to comment on his motivations. He was one of Morgan Stanley Wealth’s youngest managing directors, where titles primarily reflect revenue production, according to his Morgan Stanley webpage.
The managing director title requires at least $8.8 million in annual production or $12.3 million over the past three years, according to Morgan Stanley’s 2017 compensation plan.
A source at Rowling’s former Morgan Stanley branch in Troy said that he left in part because of changes Morgan Stanley made to its syndicate business.
Rowling was focused on capital markets business and alternative investments for his family office clients, according to a profile in On Wall Street magazine in 2016, which ranked him second among its top 40 brokers under 40.
“We can deliver solutions that are unique to our clients…often with products they can’t get elsewhere,” he told the publication. “We understand capital markets — that’s always been our focus.”
A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment.