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LPL loses $142M team but adds $170M firm amid mixed recruiting results

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Financial advisors managing a combined $312 million in client assets have changed their broker-dealers, as LPL Financial lost one practice but gained another firm at a critical time for its recruiting efforts.

The No. 1 IBD picked up Ellis Financial Group, a three-member team with $170 million in client assets, from Lucia Capital Group. Meanwhile, Merrick Financial Group, another three-member team with $142 million, left LPL for Kestra Financial. Kestra and LPL announced the moves last week.

Two other firms also chose Kestra over LPL in moves unveiled in March, as Kestra added a hybrid RIA practice with $270 million in client assets and another firm with $245 million. On the other hand, a Kestra practice with $600 million in assets under management bolted the firm in May to launch an RIA.

LPL grabbed a team with $415 million in client assets from Wells Fargo and a firm with $330 million from Lincoln Financial Network in the second quarter. LPL’s head count of more than 16,000 advisors has surpassed all wirehouse firms, but top recruiting executive Bill Morrissey is retiring later this year.

While Raymond James and Stifel are on hiring sprees, Wells Fargo is still losing talent.
June 26

John Ellis, Jennifer Baker and John Ellis, Jr. of Ellis Financial joined LPL on May 16, according to FINRA BrokerCheck, moving the team’s advisory assets to the firm’s corporate RIA. Merrick partners Eric Moore and Michael Blake and associate Allison Hudson exited LPL on Feb. 21 for Kestra.

“We founded our firm with the unwavering commitment to provide clients a top-quality level of service,” Moore said in a statement, adding that they knew Kestra’s “robust technology platform and practice enrichment tools would ensure our clients are receiving superior service day in and day out.”

Neither LPL nor Lucia, a San Diego-based IBD listing 15 advisors on its website, responded to requests for comment on the departures from their firms. Merrick also didn’t respond to inquiries, and John Ellis said he was not immediately available to discuss the practice’s move.

Merrick, which is based in Merrick, New York on Long Island, focuses on serving active and retired public employees in law enforcement. Moore, a 20-year veteran of the industry, launched the firm in 2006, and Blake joined in 2013 after a 27-year career in the New York Police Department.

The practice placed its advisory assets with the corporate RIA at Austin, Texas-based Kestra, where the firm’s roughly 1,800 advisors boosted the firm’s revenue by 12% in 2017 to $475.4 million.

The company is “dedicated to empowering sophisticated wealth management firms like Merrick,” Daniel Schwamb, Kestra’s senior vice president for business development, said in a statement.

Ellis, which operates out of an office in San Diego, had spent six years with Lucia after three years with First Allied Securities, FINRA BrokerCheck shows. Most of the firm’s clients come from San Jose, San Francisco and Sacramento, California, or Seattle and Tacoma, Washington and are in retirement or close to it, according to LPL.

LPL’s profits nearly doubled year-over-year to $93.5 million in the first quarter, after acquiring National Planning Holding’s four IBDs last year. The firm retained roughly 1,900 of NPH’s 3,200 advisors after estimating it would add about 2,000 of them through its acquisition of the firms’ assets last August.

Morrissey, the president of LPL’s business development division, had spearheaded the company’s push to bring NPH advisors into its fold. LPL tapped Richard Steinmeier, the current chief digital officer at UBS Wealth Management USA, to take Morrissey’s place when he retires in mid-August.

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