Merrill Lynch lost two advisors managing more than $160 million in client assets to Bison Financial Group, a practice with Wells Fargo Financial Network, the independent brokerage arm of Wells Fargo.

Ben Buchanan and Bill Gear joined Bison as senior vice presidents and will open an office for the firm in Melbourne, Fla. Both advisors were serving clients for Merrill throughout Central Florida.

Kristine George, who also left Merrill, will join the office as a senior registered client service associate.
Buchanan started with Bank of America in 1999 and transitioned to Merrill in 2009, when it was acquired by the bank, according to FINRA. Gear joined Bank of America in 1998, and was on a similar track to Merrill. FINRA records show that his career goes back to 1982, when he started with the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. George joined Merrill in 2011, according to FINRA, and has 20 years of experience in the financial industry. 

Buchannan will also serve as a market manager for Bison, helping direct the firm's charitable efforts.
Bison is based in Lafayette, Ind., and also has offices in Terre Haute, Valparaiso, and Mishawaka.

The Wells network has 1,221 owners and advisors in 591 practices, administering more than $76 billion in client assets.

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