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$800M Merrill Lynch team goes indie with Focus Financial

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Three advisors managing $800 million at Merrill Lynch left the wirehouse to set up an independent firm with the help of Focus Financial Partners, a spokeswoman said.

“Launching an independent firm has been on our mind for a while,” Iain Whyte, chairman of the newly created Pasadena Private Wealth, said in a statement.

Whyte and fellow teammates Simon Holford and Bryan Muth say being independent allows them to better serve clients from a fiduciary standpoint.

The Pasadena, California-based team will focus on investment portfolios, real estate holdings and business ventures for high-net-worth families, business owners, and executives.

A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch was unavailable for immediate comment.

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They're not the only ones to leave a wirehouse environment to go independent. In recent years, hundreds of their peers have made similar exits at Merrill or other wirehouses to open RIAs or to join smaller regional brokerage firms. For example, Stifel recently announced that a recruiting sweep netted nine advisors managing over $1 billion in client assets. Most of those new hires came from Wells Fargo.

And in late March, Merrill Lynch lost a team that managed over $1 billion in client assets. That team also went independent with help from Focus Financial, which recently filed an S-1 Form with the SEC last week to go public.

A March 2018 Charles Schwab study found that 94% of advisors that go independent wanted to have the freedom to do what is best for their clients, and 70% of them made more money when they did it. Schwab services RIAs.

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