NEW YORK, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Douglas Twohill, a broker at Merrill Lynch since February 1981, moved from the firm's West Palm Beach, Florida, office this week to UBS Wealth Americas in nearby Palm Beach Gardens.
Fellow Merrill adviser Steven Scalici and at least two associates joined him.
Twohill managed $240 million of assets for about 150 families as of the end of 2013, according to a Merrill website. A recruiter who asked for anonymity said he also generated about $1.5 million of fees and commissions in the past 12 months, while Scalici produced about $900,000 of such revenue and managed about $103 million of client assets.
A source close to Merrill, who was not authorized to publicly speak on the matter, estimated Twohill and Scalici's collective production at closer to $2 million than $2.4 million.
A Merrill spokesman confirmed the departures but declined to discuss the reasons for the move.
Executives of large brokerage firms have long complained that raiding each other for top brokers is a zero-sum game that they are eager to destroy. It can take years to justify signing bonuses that can reach three times what brokers produced in the previous 12 months, they say.
They have been slowing the trend by introducing long-term contracts and deferred bonuses, but the musical chairs continues. Although Merrill said in recent earnings commentaries that its retention of brokers it desires is at record levels, executives at its parent, Bank of America, are complaining of high defection rates.
The loss of a veteran such as Twohill to UBS may be particularly bothersome to Merrill. UBS Wealth Management Americas is run by former Merrill wealth head Robert McCann, who has loaded his top ranks with many other former Merrill executives. And, the Palm Beach office of about 30 UBS brokers that Twohill has joined includes Irving Silver, who joined UBS in 2010 after 32 years as a Merrill broker.
Twohill spent his entire brokerage career at Merrill, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority's website. Scalici, who joined Merrill in June 2009, previously worked at Legend Equities, Mutual Service Corp and Invest Financial, which employs brokers in bank branches, according to regulatory filings. The pair work primarily with clients in fee-based accounts and have discretion over most of their clients' investments, according to the headhunter and the Merrill website. (Reporting by Jed Horowitz; Editing by Bernard Orr)