November 27, 2012 / 7:56 PM / 5 years ago

ON THE MOVE-Brokerage launched by ex-Merrill vets adds two teams

Nov 27 (Reuters) - Snowden Capital Advisors LLC, a boutique brokerage firm founded last year by former Merrill Lynch veterans, said on Tuesday it added two adviser teams in California that manage more than $500 million in client assets.

Advisers John DiCiaccio and Leah Thomson Snell of the DiCiaccio Group joined New York-based Snowden on Monday, along with advisers Jon LaMothe and Luis Gonzalez of the LaMothe-Gonzalez Group.

The two teams, based in Pasadena, also came from Merrill Lynch, the longtime Wall Street brokerage that was acquired by Bank of America during the financial crisis in 2009.

“We’re seeking advisers who share a desire to create a values-driven, client-centric boutique firm ... and not so much the bureaucracy and conflicts of interest that exist at bigger firms,” Snowden co-founder Rob Mooney said in an interview on Tuesday.

Mooney, former general counsel and head of business risk management at Merrill Lynch, opened Snowden for business in April with fellow Merrill Lynch veteran John Morris, a longtime financial adviser at the firm.

Snowden’s multi-custodian model allows advisers to choose third-party investments through its clearing platform, removing the pressure for advisers to sell proprietary products to their clients. Such pressure is common at the brokerage arms of big banks.

The set-up 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.

The four advisers who joined Snowden in Pasadena opened a new West Coast branch office for the firm.

Bank of America confirmed the adviser departures but did not comment further.

DiCiaccio, a former senior vice president of wealth management at Merrill, had been at the firm for three decades before moving this year. He joined Snowden as a managing director, as did Gonzalez and LaMothe.

LaMothe is the brother of former Merrill Lynch brokerage chief Lyle LaMothe, who joined Snowden earlier this year as a senior adviser and member of the firm’s advisory board.

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