Raymond James takes on $260M Merrill Lynch team

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A former Merrill Lynch team that managed $260 million in client assets jumped ship to Raymond James, the firm said.

Financial advisors Michael Fowler, Wayne Creef and Jennifer Anders joined the firm’s employee broker-dealer in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The team, now operating under the name Even Keel Wealth Advisors of Raymond James, will move into a new office in nearby Norfolk once it is ready. They generated $1.85 million in annual revenue at Merrill Lynch, according to their new employer.

“What attracted us to Raymond James was the fact that advisors have independence and can truly own their practice and client relationships,” Creef said in a statement.

Each of the three advisors has more than 20 years of experience in the business, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. Also moving with them are Karen White, registered service associate, and Diane Nolette, client service associate.

A Merrill Lynch spokesman declined to comment on the team’s departure.

The group joins Raymond James amid a swell in hiring at the company. The brokerage has issued formal hiring offers totaling approximately $214 million as of June 30, up from $132 million from the year-ago period, according to the company’s earnings reports filed with the SEC. Not all offers may be accepted and the company would not have to fund the total amount offered, Raymond James cautions.

The St. Petersburg, Florida-based firm’s recruiting efforts have boosted its advisor ranks in recent years: headcount was up 185 year-over-year, topping 7,900 independent and employee advisors, according to the company’s second-quarter earnings.

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