Capping off a busy week in which Merrill Lynch unveiled a robo adviser as well as plans to comply with the fiduciary rule, the wirehouse recruited eight elite Morgan Stanley advisers to open a new office in Bellevue, Washington, according to a spokeswoman.
The advisers managed more than $2.3 billion in combined client assets, according to people familiar with the matter. The spokeswoman declined to provide AUM or production for the advisers.
The group joined Merrill's elite Private Banking & Investment Group, which serves ultrawealthy clients.
Tracy Murphy, regional managing director for the elite group in the Pacific Northwest, said that growth in the technology and venture capital sectors of the region's economy has created "substantial demand for private banking and wealth management services."
The new hires include Jason Weese, Mark Harris, Todd Kelly, Matt Bridge, Kristen Buxton, Alan Lubner, Jim Ferguson and Traci Bumpus. Several are longtime industry veterans and have past work experience at Morgan Stanley predecessor firm Smith Barney. For example, Weese had worked at the wirehouse and its predecessor Smith Barney since 1993, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.
Industry veteran Harris started his career at Dean Witter in 1980. He joined Smith Barney in 1998. Kelly started working at the firm in 1997, and Bridge joined him there the following year.
Lubner began his advisory career at Prudential Securities in 1990. He moved to Smith Barney in 1994. Ferguson, an adviser since 1987, joined Smith Barney from CIBC Oppenheimer in 1998. Bumpus started her career at Smith Barney in 2000.
All the Smith Barney veterans stayed with the firm following its merger with Morgan Stanley.
Unlike the others, Buxton is rejoining Merrill. She worked at the wirehouse from 1999 to 2003. Buxton left to work at UBS before moving to Morgan Stanley in 2011.
A spokeswoman for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.