Two Merrill Lynch advisers managing about $575 million in assets left to launch a new RIA with help from Focus Financial Partners, according to the firm.

Sean Campbell and Timothy Deegan opened Campbell Deegan Financial on Feb. 17 under counseling by a Focus division aimed at teams starting new firms. Focus Independence has guided ten new companies into the aggregator's growing 45-member fold, according to the company.

The founding partners of the new Richmond, Virginia, firm first teamed up in 2013 when Deegan joined the Merrill group led by Campbell and his father. Campbell and Deegan have been running the office since the elder Campbell retired in 2015.

Campbell Deegan Financial founders Tim Deegan and  Sean Campbell
Campbell Deegan Financial founders Sean Campbell (right) and Tim Deegan (left) launched their company after four years working together at Merrill Lynch.

"We know the local community well and we see great opportunities in offering better wealth management services to more clients," Campbell said in a statement. "Going independent is a natural step for us and we are excited to work with Focus, who has a track record of helping entrepreneurs elevate their businesses."

Campbell began his advisory career in a Merrill office in Atlanta in 1998, moving over to his father's team in Richmond three years later, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. The father-son duo boasted clients in 30 states, and the new firm has five employees.

A spokeswoman for Merrill Lynch declined to comment on Campbell and Deegan's departure.

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Campbell declined to discuss the specifics of the new firm's arrangement with Focus, though he notes the relationship will "evolve as time goes forward." The founding partners were calling clients this week in an effort to retain them.

"It's been fantastic," says Campbell, 42. "I've actually been humbled by the clients' positive response so far."

All ten of the new firms advised by Focus Independence eventually entered into partnerships with Focus, according to the company.

"One of the most valuable assets we see in Campbell Deegan is the trust clients have in them," Focus Independence President Chris Dupuy said in a statement. "The trust is built upon the team's top-notch expertise and client service. That, paired with their eagerness to grow, makes them a perfect candidate for Focus."

Focus kicked off 2017 by adding Crestwood Advisors, a Boston RIA with $1.3 billion in assets under management. CFO4Life, a Dallas-area firm with $433 million in AUM, joined Focus weeks later. Focus acquired seven other firms last year.

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Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger

Tobias Salinger is an associate editor of Financial Planning, On Wall Street and Bank Investment Consultant.