Two Merrill Lynch advisers with $150 million in client assets bolted to launch Snowden Lane Partners’ ninth branch.

Larry Barocas and Debbie Ury of the Strategic Management Group opened the hybrid broker-dealer and RIA’s San Antonio office on Wednesday, according to Barocas. Snowden Lane has hired at least seven ex-wirehouse advisers this year, including another Merrill team that joined the firm last month.

Debbie Ury and Larry Barocas of Snowden Lane Partners
Former Merrill Lynch advisers Larry Barocas (right) and Debbie Ury (left) opened Snowden Lane’s new San Antonio office.

“Recently among all the wirehouses, there’s been a lot of proprietary products, a lot of things we felt prevented us from helping the clients,” says Barocas, 57. “Here, I can be a true fiduciary.”

Merrill policies and bureaucratic hurdles for advice involving retirement and estate plans and cross-border wealth also figured in the decision, Boracas adds.

A spokeswoman for Merrill declined a request for comment on the duo’s departure Thursday.

Slideshow
Breakneck pace for breakaways in first quarter
HighTower and Dynasty added big platform clients as wirehouse brokers continued to flee.

Barocas began his advisory career at Smith Barney in 1998 before joining UBS in 2002 and Merrill Lynch in 2009, according to BrokerCheck. He had previously been a tax attorney who also took on pro bono cases, once representing a criminal client before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995, he says.

Ury started at Merrill back in 1984, cutting her teeth as an adviser on St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. She returned to the continental U.S. in 1990, eventually moving over to Barocas’ team.

EXPANDING FOOTPRINT
Barocas and Ury expect more advisers to defect from Merrill for the new Snowden office in coming months, he says.

“We anticipate some steady growth over the year,” Barocas says.

Their breakaway followed those of several other ex-wirehouse advisers to Snowden Lane. In addition to the other Merrill duo last month, the firm also added a former Morgan Stanley adviser to a New York team overseeing $400 million. An ex-Wells Fargo team joined the firm in late January.

Former Merrill Lynch executives opened the New York City firm in 2011, and it has more than $1.3 billion in assets under management, according to its Form ADV. Private equity fund Estancia Capital Partners owns a majority stake in the firm, while Brinker Capital holds a convertible note investment.

The company’s latest hire marks a “key move for Snowden Lane as we continue to expand our national footprint with seasoned talent,” CEO Rob Mooney said in a statement. He added his own prediction that the new San Antonio office would soon add more advisers.

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Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger is an associate editor of Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant.