A Merrill Lynch team with $220 million in client assets jumped to Raymond James’ employee channel, according to a spokeswoman.

David Lum and Michael Piazza of Lum Wealth Management joined the regional broker-dealer in Stuart, Florida, Raymond James announced this week. The team has annual revenues of over $1.7 million, according to the company's statement.

The pair’s move means at least five Merrill advisers have left for Raymond James in the first three months of 2017. Lum, a 17-year Merrill veteran, cites Raymond James’ support for its advisers.

He spoke for an hour with chairman emeritus Tom James on a tour of the firm’s St. Petersburg headquarters, he says, noting he never visited Merrill’s main office during his entire tenure.

“Here I was, one of their best producers,” says Lum, 58. “The thought of inviting their advisers to the headquarters really was never a twinkle in their eyes.”

Lum Wealth Management of Raymond James
From left to right, Michael Piazza, Theresa McMasters and David Lum left Merrill Lynch for Raymond James in Stuart, Florida.

A spokeswoman for Merrill declined to discuss his team’s exit from the firm.

Piazza, a former pro baseball player and a distant cousin of Hall of Fame catcher Mike Piazza, met Lum while serving as a Merrill intern in the offseason starting in 2010. Piazza, a minor league teammate of superstar Mike Trout, became a full-time adviser at Merrill in 2015.

Lum began his career in financial services with E.F. Hutton in New York back in 1981, moving with the firm to Florida six years later. He left for Prudential Securities in 1988 before eventually coming to Merrill in 1999, according to FINRA BrokerCheck.

Slideshow
Advisers on the move: Merrill Lynch loses $602M team to Morgan Stanley
The firm also recruited an international wealth management team that oversaw $576 million, according to our latest roundup of recent hires and moves.

The duo started at Raymond James on Feb. 24. Registered sales associate Theresa McMasters and another former Merrill team member have also come aboard. Branch manager Bill Romans oversees the Stuart office, part of Raymond James' Florida east coast complex under Dan Kraus.

Lum says Merrill’s unwillingness to allow McMasters to rejoin his team after a different assignment was one of several factors that led to his exit. Bank of America’s 2009 acquisition of Merrill, which Lum says distracted from its advisory business, was another.

He also praised Raymond James’ marketing team for helping his team build a website, a service lauded by other advisers who left Merrill for Raymond James. The company’s 100 consecutive profitable quarters drew him in as well, he says.

“Attracting a veteran financial adviser like David, with his years of experience, outstanding reputation and credentials, is a testament to the broad range of support and resources he and his team will find here at Raymond James,” Florida regional director Patrick O’Connor said in a statement.

The firm and Steward Partners, a subsidiary from its independent channel, have been adding ex-wirehouse advisers in droves lately. Raymond James has recruited at least 17 advisers to its various arms from wirehouse firms so far this year.

Steward Partners alone has poached eight advisers this year from Morgan Stanley. Raymond James & Associates, the firm’s traditional broker-dealer, hired a Wells Fargo adviser overseeing $375 million in assets late last month.

On the other hand, the company lost a branch manager to fellow regional firm Stifel in late January. Raymond James boasts around 7,100 advisers with total client assets of $622 billion, according to the firm.

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Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger

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