Thursday, July 18, 2024

Steward Partners Scoops Up $320M Merrill Team in Florida -Dlight News

A Naples, Fla.-based team led by advisor Alicia Fuller has left Merrill Lynch after nearly 40 years with the wirehouse to join Steward Partners’ W2 model. Steward, an employee-owned, hybrid partnership of independent advisory firms, added Coastal 360 Capital Advisors, with over $320 million in AUM.

This represents Steward’s fourth office in Florida; it also has locations in Clearwater, Sarasota and Winter Park.

Fuller is joined by Courtney Shrewsberry, vice president and wealth manager, and Christina Sanchez, vice president and client administrative manager.

Launched in 2013 with one advisor and around $100 million in assets under management, Steward has since grown to more than $35 billion in client assets across 500 partners, primarily through the recruitment of breakaway wirehouse advisors.

Advisors can join via a W2 employee model or a 1099 model. Late last year, the firm launched an M&A model, seeded by its acquisition of Freedom Street Partners, a $3.2 billion firm. Steward added two more firms to the model, Monaco Capital and Saling Simms, last month.

“With optionality, we really want to make sure that however you want to affiliate with Steward, we have something that fits for you, versus stuffing everything into a box,” said Jeff Gonyo, senior divisional president, Southern Division and head of recruiting of Steward Partners. 

Coastal 360 joined under the W2 model; Fuller said it was the easiest transition for the team coming out of a wirehouse.

“Going to a 1099 channel was just a bridge too far for me, so that middle ground fit perfectly,” she said.

Fuller said the firm will use Raymond James for custody.

Steward moved to a multicustodial model in 2022 after the firm brought brokerage and registrations in-house, and added Pershing that fall. Efforts to add Goldman Sachs have been delayed since Steward was announced as its first RIA custody client in 2021. Since then, Goldman has slowed its rollout of the new channel and added several other firms ahead of Steward.

Fuller said she chose Steward because the firm allowed her to be “entrepreneurially minded,” create her own brand and build a legacy business.

“We do a lot of deep planning for our clients, a lot of estate planning, so that is very generationally driven,” she said. “Clients understanding that there’s a team here that can be here through several of their children’s lifetimes is very rewarding for them, and it’s something that is very positive for us too.”

Steward is majority-owned by employees and backed by capital from Cynosure Group and the Pritzker Organization, as well as a $140 million credit facility. 

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