Jonathan Cartu Suggests: Rockefeller Lures $2.2-Million Merrill Team in Michigan

Financial Advisors Leaving

April 16, 2021

A four-person Merrill Lynch team producing $2.2 million in annual revenue in the Detroit suburbs left the wirehouse Friday for Rockefeller Capital Management, according to a source familiar with the move.

The Low Group, led by advisors John Low and Kristen Palazeti, managed $350 million in client assets in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, according to the well-placed source. They moved along with two client associates, Jennifer Byrne and Tori Torango, and mark the 51st group to join the recapitalized family office.

Neither Low, who ranked 74th on Forbes’ Best-in-State Wealth Advisors in 2020, nor Palazeti responded to a call for comment at their new office. 

Low, a 26-year industry veteran, joined Merrill in 2009 from Wells Fargo, according to his BrokerCheck record. He began his brokerage career with Olde Discount Corporation in 1995 but moved to Wells predecessor Prudential Securities Inc. that same year.

Palazeti began her brokerage career in 2018 with Merrill, according to her BrokerCheck. She had joined Merrill after an “extensive career in the automotive industry” working as a business and sales analyst, according to her former firm biography and LinkedIn. 

Rockefeller, which is aiming for 200 advisor teams by 2025, has cherry-picked big wirehouse teams since its 2018 recapitalization but has drawn heavily from Merrill Lynch this year.

The firm last month hired Merrill teams producing $3 million-plus in Cincinnati, San Antonio and Irvine, California. It also recruited a veteran Merrill private wealth management regional director, Brett Thelander, who is expected to officially join as Midwest divisional director in Chicago in May.

A spokesperson for Merrill Lynch, which froze its veteran broker recruiting efforts in 2017 to focus on promoting asset gathering among its existing sales force, did not return a request for comment on Friday’s move. 

A senior Merrill executive said this week in discussing the firm’s first quarter earnings results that its competitive attrition rate was around 4% in the first three months of the year, roughly in-line with last year and down sequentially from the fourth quarter.

The executive also reiterated comments that around 80% of those leaving have previously been recruited to Merrill from other firms, a sign that they are serial movers. 

“That reaffirms for us the commitment to organically growing our advisor force and helping them achieve long-term career success at Merrill Lynch,” the executive said. 

The executive, however, also signaled that the firm may be dipping a toe back into the veteran broker recruiting fray to help it expand in roughly 10 key markets.

Both Merrill and Rockefeller are signatories to the Protocol for Broker Recruiting, which allows brokers to solicit their former clients when moving among signatory firms.

Jonathan Cartu

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *