| NEW YORK, July 15
NEW YORK, July 15 Less than a month after a top
Merrill Lynch executive said the Bank of America
securities brokerage would begin recruiting again, the firm has
hired a top financial adviser away from rival Morgan Stanley
Robert Labriola joined Merrill Lynch's Rockefeller Center
New York office on July 11 from Morgan Stanley's office in
Purchase, New York, where he managed $200 million in assets.
Merrill Lynch made the announcement on Tuesday. Labriola was
not immediately available for comment. A spokeswoman for Morgan
Stanley confirmed Labriola left the firm but declined to say
Labriola previously worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner
& Smith in the late 1990s, before leaving in 2000 to work for
Citigroup and then Morgan Stanley.
Labriola's hiring comes after John Thiel, head of U.S.
Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch, told Reuters the firm
planned to restart hiring after years of steadily reducing its
"We want to grow," Thiel said at Reuters' Global Wealth
Summit in mid-June, adding that the expansion will be "very
selective" and "thoughtful."
Merrill Lynch, once the largest U.S. securities firm as
measured by its sales force, ended the first quarter with 13,725
financial advisers, a decrease of almost 15 percent since it was
bought by Bank of America Corp during the financial crisis in
Morgan Stanley is the largest U.S. brokerage firm by sales
force, with 16,426 advisers as of March 31. Wells Fargo & Co's
Wells Fargo Advisors and UBS AG's UBS Wealth Management
Americas round out the nation's four largest
Top level advisers like Labriola, who manage more than $100
million in client assets or produce more than $1 million a year
in revenue for their firms, are prize "gets" for these firms.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Dilts; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)