Morgan Stanley recruited a $6.5 billion team from Merrill Lynch for its elite Graystone Consulting unit, surpassing Morgan's biggest recruiting grab in 2014, which was a $4.5 billion team.

The mega move also comes on the heels of the firm's data breach, and as details continue to unfold on how an employee allegedly stole client data.

The new recruits, known as the Stephans Van Liew and Oiler Group, were previously part of Merrill's Private Banking & Investment Group. The eight-member group joined Morgan in Chicago and work with high-net-worth individuals, family offices, university endowments and other institutions.

Morgan's Graystone Consulting unit specializes in services for institutional clients. The team is led by senior partners and managing directors Linda Stephans, Kristina Van Liew and Erik Oiler.

Stephans and Van Liew had previously worked together at Northern Trust. Stephans moved to Merrill in 2001 while Van Liew followed in 2006, according to FINRA records. Oiler started his advisory career at Merrill in 1998.

While at Merrill, Van Liew was chair of the advisory council to management for global institutional consulting, according to a statement from Morgan Stanley. Stephans was past chair of the advisory council to management for the Private Banking & Investment Group.

"This team is among the best in the industry at what they do, and will be an important addition as we expand Graystone in the Midwest and across the nation," Marc Brookman, Managing Director and Head of Graystone Consulting, said in a statement.

Other team members include: vice presidents Iftikhar Khan, Patricia Zavagnin and Niesha Parekh; Vice President Eric Hatch; and client service associate Alicia Garabedian.

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