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December 2015

Citywire Americas – Advisory firm hires $200m Merrill team to launch offshore business


Independent advisory firm Snowden Lane Partners has recruited a San Diego-based international Merrill Lynch team with $200 million in client assets in a bid to expand to non-US resident clients and reach over $15 billion in total client assets.

In its first move into offshore advice, Snowden has hired a team lead by Rick Leyva, who has been appointed as a partner and managing director of Snowden after about nine years with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

He will be joined by new managing directors and private wealth advisors Clelia Dipp and Imar Rodriguez, private wealth advisor Cristina Eddy and client associate Frances Estrada.

The former Merrill Lynch team focuses on Latin America, as well as financial, trust and estate planning for high net-worth individuals and families, and will be based at Snowden’s newly-opened office in San Diego.

Merrill Lynch declined to comment on the specific departure, but has previously told Citywire Americas it is concentrating its efforts in countries where it can ‘responsibly serve clients through a goals-based wealth management approach’.

The recruitment of Leyva and his colleagues is the first of a number of hires, Snowden Lane’s chief executive Rob Mooney told Citywire Americas.

‘We see a significant opportunity for quality teams to serve non-resident clients of the US. We do not have a specific target number of teams but, we anticipate growing to around 30 to 40 total advisor teams (including US domestic and international) in the next several years, to reach in excess of $15 billion in total client assets for the firm,’ he said.

‘Our plan at this point is to attract very high quality, experienced advisors who reside in the US and service non-resident clients.  We anticipate more teams will join us once they learn about our value proposition and experience with international markets and clients.’

The firm expects to service clients in a number of countries in Latin America, including Mexico and Brazil and hopes to take advantage of the number of global banks withdrawing from global business.

Offshore exits

The team’s departure is one of a number to have hit Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in the past few weeks as its restructuring process begins to take hold.

The global wealth manager announced plans in July to revamp its international business by increasing account minimums and cutting countries out of its coverage.

In November, Citywire Americas reported on UBS taking on a $275 million team as well as two other Merrill Lynch international teams, worth a combined $655 million, leaving for other groups.

However, Merrill is not the only business to have restructured its offshore business.

Swiss giant Credit Suisse agreed to a recruitment deal with Morgan Stanley last week for its US-based LatAm advisors, which is part of the latter’s recent move to cater only to offshore clients of certain a wealth profile in specific countries.

 

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