CityWire, June 16, 2017
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Bolton Global Capital has recruited its fifth Merrill Lynch Wealth Management advisor since the Bank of America-owned wire house announced its plans to move upmarket. In the last year, Bolton, an independent broker-dealer, has brought over five teams consisting of eight financial advisors from Merrill Lynch with a total of $983 million in client assets.
The latest to join, Felipe Ballestas, has joined Bolton’s Miami office after 22 years with Merrill. He was a member of a two person team at Merrill Lynch managing over $350 million in client assets. His partner, Andres Mesa, is staying on at Merrill Lynch but it is expected that at least $175 million in client assets will transfer over to Bolton. Ballestas will be joining the Ballestas Group, part of Bolton’s network of independent advisors, which was formed by his brother, Andres Ballestas, when he left Merrill Lynch two years ago for Bolton.
The Ballestas Group has over $200 million in client assets primarily from Mexico, Colombia and the US. Bolton’s international assets under management are over $3 billion. The Boston-headquartered broker-dealer has been positioning itself as a prime destination for wirehouse teams looking to transition into the independent space and that have $100 million or more in client assets.
It has been particularly successful in attracting advisors leaving Merrill Lynch following the US giant’s decision to cut down its international business and focus solely on ultra-high net worth individuals in 29 countries, specifically within Latin America and Canada in July 2015.
Merrill Lynch also doubled its minimum account size on non-US accounts from $500,000 to $1 million for existing clients in January, a move that has led to a number of departures.
The firm declined to comment on Ballesta’s departure. It is understood Merrill Lynch expected exits from advisors who could no longer service existing clients under the new regime.
Merrill Lynch said it made the decision to change its business model to cut down on risk and focus on generating revenue. It is also looking to recruit advisors for its international unit.