Stifel nabs Merrill duo, opens new branch

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Stifel opened a new branch and hired advisors overseeing $224 million in client assets, the firm said.

The additions further Stifel’s recruiting push. The firm recently reported headcount jumped to 2,127 at the end of 2019 from 2,051 in 2018. The firm opened 42 new branches last year, bringing the total to 446 offices.

In McAllen, Texas — its newest location — Stifel picked up advisors Cole Abbott and Adrienne Stewart. They were previously affiliated with Merrill Lynch where they oversaw $183 million in client assets.

Abbott had been with Merrill since joining the industry in 1999, according to FINRA BrokerCheck records. Stewart joined him at the wirehouse in 2012.

The McAllen office is Stifel’s 16th location in Texas. Stifel has scored several big hires in the state over the past year, including a team that managed $1 billion. That group had also been employed at Merrill Lynch.

Stifel’s third new hire is Gary Dennis. He left Ameriprise to join Stifel in Flint, Michigan. He was previously responsible for $41 million in client assets, according to his new employer.

Former Merrill Lynch employees Diana Rodriguez (left), Cole Abbott, and Adrienne Stewart are staffing the new Stifel location in McAllen, Texas.

An advisor since 1989, Dennis has past experience at Morgan Stanley in addition to his time at Ameriprise.

John Pierce, Stifel’s head of recruitment, chalked up the firm’s recent recruiting wins to compensation and other policy changes at competitors. Stifel’s advisor comp plan “has only changed two times during Ron Kruszewski’s 23-year tenure as CEO” and the firm has an agonistic approach to fee-based or brokerage business, he said in a statement.

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