$180M Merrill Lynch team goes indie with Raymond James

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Two Merrill Lynch advisors who managed approximately $180 million in client assets broke away from the wirehouse to launch an independent practice under Raymond James, according to the firm.

Taylor Adams, who had spent 13 years at Merrill, and Annie Norris, who was there for 31 years, opened Southern Wealth Group as wirehouses lose advisors amid the flux surrounding the Broker Protocol. The Little Rock, Arkansas-based firm aligned in February with the third largest independent broker-dealer. They generated about $1.5 million in annual revenue, according to Raymond James.

Assets under administration for Raymond James’ Private Client Group, which also includes its employee brokerage, grew 18% to $692.1 billion year-over-year in the fourth quarter. Its pretax income jumped by 110% to $155.1 million on revenue of $1.23 billion, both of which are records.

The St. Petersburg, Florida-based firm’s advisor headcount also reached a record of 7,537 advisors, aided in particular by strong recruiting of independent advisors, according to the firm. Its latest addition followed a $350 million Wells Fargo team’s breakaway move to the IBD in December.

“Having been with our previous firm for so long, we didn’t take a move lightly and we took more than a year to evaluate how a potential move might benefit us, but more importantly, our clients,” Adams said in a statement. He added praise for the firm’s technology and investment expertise, along with the way it “allows us the freedom to truly run all aspects of our business.”

A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch didn’t respond to a request for comment on Adams and Norris’ departure.

They formally aligned with Raymond James on Feb. 16, according to FINRA BrokerCheck. Norris began her career at Merrill, while Adams came from Edward Jones in 2005. Southern Wealth’s clients include small business owners, as well as other individuals and families.

Senior client representatives Teresa Ammons joined Norris and Adams in the breakaway move from Merrill, where she had been for 18 years. The team reports to Kirk Bell, Raymond James regional director for its central region.

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Recruiting Career moves Independent BDs Independent advisors Going independent Wirehouse advisors Merrill Lynch Raymond James Financial