| April 12
April 12 Two former Merrill Lynch veterans on
Thursday announced that they opened an independent,
adviser-owned brokerage firm, saying they hope it will attract
top talent from the biggest U.S. brokerages and grow to be
global in scale.
Rob Mooney, former general counsel and head of business risk
management at Merrill, and his partner, John Morris, a longtime
financial adviser, founded New York-based Snowden Capital
Advisors LLC last year and fully opened for business in April.
The firm's advisory board includes former Merrill broker chief
Lyle LaMothe and division head Greg Franks.
"We had been thinking about the wealth advisory space for
quite some time," Mooney said in an interview on Thursday. "Now
is an opportune time because we've come through with the
approval of our broker-dealer and we believe strongly that there
are forces in the market causing fundamental, structural changes
to the wealth management business."
Mooney said he expects Snowden to attract advisers who seek
independence from any push to sell proprietary products, which
is common at the brokerage arms of big banks. Snowden offers a
clearing platform that allows advisers to choose third-party
The firm's multi-custodian model is similar to those at
other wealth-management start-ups such as HighTower Advisors
LLC, which has had success over the past year in poaching top
advisers from the big Wall Street brokerages, including Merrill
Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and UBS.
"As wirehouse retention deals continue to expire, more and
more high-end advisers will continue to move out, especially
those people who have already taken a deal once or twice," said
New York-based financial services recruiter Mark Elzweig. "There
will be people who feel that independence is the next logical
step for them."
Both Mooney and Morris had spent more than two decades at
Merrill Lynch, the brokerage that was acquired by Bank of
America during the financial crisis.
Mooney said that while the high-net-worth firm does not have
a client minimum, he expects most clients to have at least $1
million in investable assets. Mooney said he and Morris plan to
eventually extend their adviser base overseas.
"We believe very strongly in a global perspective for our
clients," he said.