ON THE MOVE-Three Merrill brokers in Conn. join firm founded by Merrill alumni

Sept 20 Fri Sep 20, 2013 2:05pm EDT

Sept 20 (Reuters) - Three brokers who managed about half-a-billion dollars of client assets at Bank of America's Merrill Lynch have joined Snowden Capital Advisors, a wealth management firm founded by former Merrill executives.

Kevin Guth and Stephen Fordyce opened a Snowden office in New Haven, Connecticut this week, said Rob Mooney, a cofounder of Snowden. The office is about two blocks from the Merrill branch where they worked for more than 15 years.

The team is the third broker group to join Snowden since the New York City-based firm was founded in April 2011 by Mooney and John Morris.

Mooney was general counsel and chief risk officer for Merrill's wealth management group when he left after 22 years in 2009. Morris ran several international wealth management units in London, Dubai and New York for Merrill. Greg Franks, president of Snowden, was head of several brokerage network divisions during his 28-year career at Merrill.

Snowden also has an office in Pasadena, California, with two teams of former Merrill brokers who jointly manage about $500 million of assets. One group is co-headed by Jon LaMothe, a brother of Lyle LaMothe, the former head of Merrill's U.S. brokerage network and now chairman of Snowden.

Despite its roots, Snowden is not meant to be a Merrill "liftout," Mooney said. It hopes to employ about 100 advisers from a variety of firms within five years.

Senior advisers are required to put capital into Snowden in return for equity in the firm. The high-level brokers the firm seeks receive pay starting at around 40 percent of the revenue they produce, which Mooney said is competitive with what they receive at large firms.

Advisers pay for some operating costs and participate in profit-sharing once they hit profit-margin goals.

Snowden, which is named after a lane in Morris's hometown of Princeton, New Jersey, operates both a broker-dealer that allows advisers to take commissions and a registered investment adviser that specializes in fee-based financial planning and investment advice. The firm offers an open platform of investment products and services provided by Bank of New York Mellon's Pershing clearing unit and other firms that service independent advisers.

Snowden's advisory board includes Bob Doll, Merrill's former chief equity strategist, and Charles Widger, executive chairman of Brinker Capital, an asset management firm in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. Doll and Brinker are also investors in Snowden.