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$600M Merrill team leaves for Dynasty-affiliated RIA

A Merrill Lynch team that oversaw $600 million in client assets left the wirehouse to join an RIA affiliated with Dynasty Financial Partners, the firm said.

The four-member group combined forces with Syntal Capital Partners, expanding the Midland, Texas-based firm's total staff to 12. The new hires, led by advisor Ben Gordon, are based in Dallas.

Gordon was part of Merrill Lynch's elite Private Banking & Investment Group, which serves ultrawealthy clients. He had been with the wirehouse since joining the industry in 1994, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. Gordon said in a statement that they made the move in part because of the culture and growth opportunities in the independent space.

Syntal co-founders Chad Clary and Dane Crunk are also former Merrill Lynch PBIG advisors who struck out on their own in 2012. The firm also has an office in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

"Chad and I have had a long relationship with Ben and his team over the last decade and are delighted to welcome them to Syntal Capital Partners," Crunk said in a statement.

The RIA specializes in serving business owners who work in the energy industry. But with the addition of Gordon's team, the firm is broadening more than just its geographical reach, Crunk said.

"Energy will remain a critical part of our business," he said. "However, with Ben and his team joining Syntal, we have broadened our business and will now serve clients in numerous sectors beyond energy including real estate, consumer goods, technology and finance sectors."

Ben Gordon ex-Merrill Lynch advisor now with Dynasty

EXPANDING HORIZONS
As a channel, RIAs have been experiencing faster growth than their larger Wall Street competitors. Shirl Penney, CEO of Dynasty, expects more wirehouse and other advisors to join expanding RIAs.

RIA owners "have evolved from being world-class advisors to being world-class CEOs," says Penney.

Summit Trail Advisors, an RIA formed by former Barclays advisors in 2015, recently added a new team that managed $300 million at boutique wealth management firm Fischer and Company. Summit Trail went independent with Dynasty's backing.

Dynasty and other companies that serve breakaways have been helping a growing number of large wirehouse teams form and expand RIAs.

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Independent firms can offer new recruits equity as a hiring enticement, which may appear particularly attractive given recruiting cutbacks at three of the four wirehouses.

"If you go back 10 years ago, there were a lot of rollups forming and they were funded by private equity. Ultimately, there was less equity to go around to the advisor teams. Now there are well-run, well-funded RIAs run by advisors and there is more room on the table to discuss giving more equity to the advisors," he says.

Plus, former wirehouse advisors can enjoy the benefits of being independent without the work.

"Advisors want to be independent, but not alone. They like to be in a community like Dynasty's, which has regional events, and helps advisors collaborate and learn from one another," Penney says.

Also moving with Gordon to Syntal are Laura Blair, senior vice president of client operations, Collin Hart, vice president of investment strategy and research, and Risa Kiser, chief of staff.

A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch was unavailable for immediate comment.

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