Merrill Miami Broker Shifts to a Boutique, Wells Banker Joins RBC in Chicago

April 2020

Two wirehouse brokers have changed jerseys this week, despite the suppressed environment for broker recruiting.

In Coral Gables, Florida, 32-year industry veteran Daniel J. Rodriguez left Merrill Lynch to join Snowden Lane Partners on Monday, along with a client associate. He was managing about $84 million of client assets, according to Snowden, which was founded by Merrill Lynch executives and managers in 2011.Rodriguez, who had been with Merrill for six-and-a-half years, works with international and domestic clients, according to Snowden. Merrill severely restricted its servicing of international accounts four years ago, citing regulatory and business concerns.

The hire is the first for Snowden this year, said Greg Franks, president of the $5-billion asset brokerage and investment advisory “boutique.” The firm has about 60 advisors, roughly one-third of whom have a Merrill lineage, said Franks, a former Merrill division head.

Snowden had been wooing Rodriguez for about a year, said Franks, conceding his surprise at his new recruit’s eagerness to move amid the coronavirus crisis that has kept most advisors and support staff from working out of their offices.

Rodriguez did not return a call for comment, but Franks said the broker saw opportunity in global shelter-at-home restrictions to spend extra time with former clients, even if remotely, and to have less retention competition from brokers at Merrill’s Coral Gables branch.

“In times like this, not a lot of people are moving,’” Franks said, “but he walked me through it.”

Snowden, for its part, is on course to record its second-best month revenue month since its founding, according to Franks. While Covid-19 markets hurt fee-based quarterly billings at the start of the month, transactional revenue has soared through April from yield-hungry clients pouring into alternative investments, he said.

Snowden last year added eight advisors, and many of their client assets transferred during the first quarter, according to Franks.

Snowden is majority owned by private equity firm Estancia Capital, a private equity firm specializing in sub-$50 million companies, according to Estancia’s website. Snowden also has backing from turnkey asset management platform Brinker Capital, according to its ADV.

Franks, along with former Merrill retail brokerage head Lyle LaMothe and former Merrill general counsel Rob Mooney, have minority interests. LaMothe is chairman of the firm and Mooney is its chief executive.

Rodriguez started his career in 1987 at the now-defunct  Easter Kramer Group Securities. Since 1996 he worked at PaineWebber, Prudential Securities, Wells Fargo Advisors and—as of 2013—Merrill Lynch.

In another move from a wirehouse, Jeremy Sutton left Wells Fargo Advisors’ private bank in downtown Chicago last week to join RBC Wealth Management in the same neighborhood. A solo practitioner, Sutton produced around $1 million and considered several alternatives—including going independent—before opting for the Royal Bank of Canada unit, said an RBC insider.

Sutton, who declined to comment, has nine years of brokerage industry experience, including almost six at the start of his career at Goldman Sachs. At Wells he was the senior advisor on a two-person team that included 44-year brokerage industry veteran Douglas Carroll, according to their former team web page and Carroll’s BrokerCheck history.

Carroll, who joined Wells after nine years at Credit Suisse Private Banking and almost 30 years in a practice with his father at Chicago-based Wayne Hummer Investments, did not return a call for comment on how his practice has been affected by Sutton’s departure.

—Jed Horowitz contributed to this story.