ON THE MOVE-Ameriprise lands teams from Merrill, Morgan Stanley

Wed Nov 28, 2012 12:45pm EST

Nov 28 (Reuters) - Ameriprise Financial Inc has expanded its adviser force in Illinois and New Jersey with two veteran teams from top U.S. brokerages Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

The new advisers, who managed a combined $370 million in client assets at their old firms, moved in mid-November.

"Ameriprise gave us the opportunity for all of our clients to do more financial planning," said Illinois-based adviser Ziv Ohel in an interview on Wednesday.

Ohel, who has worked in the industry for two decades, moved to Ameriprise from Morgan Stanley Wealth Management earlier this month with his partner, Bill Duncan. The two managed $275 million in client assets at their old firm and generated more than $2 million in annual revenue last year.

In the roughly two weeks since the advisers made the move, Duncan said the response from clients has been largely positive.

"It's not an easy decision from our end," he said, referring to the process of transferring client assets from one firm to another. "But we're now very comfortable in our relationships with clients."

The advisers, based in the Chicago suburb of Deerfield, were legacy Citigroup Smith Barney advisers who joined Morgan Stanley Wealth Management after the 2009 merger of Morgan Stanley's wealth business and Citi's Smith Barney.

The duo joined Ameriprise's traditional employee broker-dealer division, which has about 2,300 advisers across the country. The company also has about 7,500 additional advisers in its independent channel, which caters to advisers who also function as business owners.

Also on the move, advisers Levent Bayrasli and Russell Smith joined Ameriprise' independent channel from Merrill Lynch, the brokerage owned by Bank of America. The advisers, based in Branchburg, New Jersey, managed $95 million in client assets at Merrill.

Minneapolis-based Ameriprise had about $344.9 billion in total client assets under management as of the end of September. Many of the firm's big broker recruits this year have come from major U.S. brokerages including Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, Merrill Lynch and Wells Fargo Advisors.

Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the departures. Bank of America confirmed the departures but did not comment further.