A Merrill Lynch team that oversaw approximately $200 million in client assets has left the wirehouse to join Snowden Lane Partners, the firm said..

The team, which specializes in serving Latin American clients, opened a new office for Snowden in San Diego.

Team leader Rick Leyva, who joined Snowden as a partner and managing director, says it wasn't an easy decision to leave Merrill, where he had worked since 2007.

"Our decision to join Snowden Lane was arrived at only after spending a great deal of time with their leadership team, understanding if this was the right fit for our clients and us," Rick Leyva said in a statement.

Leyva said that the team found that "we are completely aligned [with Snowden] both from philosophical and practical viewpoints on our vision for the financial advisory business."

His fellow team members include managing directors and private wealth advisors Clelia Dipp and Imar Rodriguez; private wealth advisor Christina Eddy; and client associate Frances Estrada.

A Merrill spokeswoman could not be reached for comment.

Snowden has been recruiting wirehouse teams, several from Merrill Lynch, and has now opened seven offices. CEO Rob Mooney, a former Merrill executive, said in a statement that the firm welcomed the opportunity to service wealth created by individuals outside the U.S.

"Rick and his team give us a strategic opportunity to serve high-quality non-resident clients, and to leverage the considerable international experience of our leadership team. With global banks withdrawing from cross-border business, Snowden Lane is well positioned to step into the breach," he said.

Snowden isn't the first firm to benefit from shifting policies at some brokerage firms, which are pulling back from serving certain wealth management markets.

After Morgan Stanley lost a $2.4 billion team earlier this year to Raymond James & Associates, a spokeswoman for the wirehouse said that Morgan was no longer able to accommodate all of the team's clients.

"They serve a number of smaller central banks in Caribbean and Latin American countries and for regulatory reasons we are shifting coverage of these clients to our institutional business and will no longer serve them in wealth management," the spokeswoman said in a statement.

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