Recruitment Roundup: Equitable, Rockefeller, Morgan Stanley And More

Chris Latham, Managing Editor, Wealth Solutions Report

Equitable Recruits Mother-Son Duo, Kestra Adds Sixth Utah Team, Rockefeller Onboards From Merrill Lynch, NewEdge Helps Launch Florida Team, Sequoia To Acquire M Capital, Focus-Backed Buckingham To Acquire 2 Firms, Sammons And NorthRock Join Forces And Morgan Stanley Names Co-President Ted Pick As New CEO

This edition of the Weekly Recruitment Roundup features Equitable Advisors recruiting a $175 million mother-son duo, Kestra Private Wealth Services bringing on a $200 million team, Rockefeller Global Family Office recruiting a $500 million team, NewEdge Advisors helping to launch a $500 million team, Sequoia Financial Group agreeing to acquire M Capital Advisors, Buckingham Strategic Wealth agreeing to acquire two firms, Sammons Financial Group and NorthRock Partners joining forces and Morgan Stanley naming Co-President Ted Pick to succeed outgoing CEO James Gorman.

Advisor Transactions

1. Equitable Advisors Recruits $175 Million Mother-Son Duo In New Jersey

David Fleisher, Greater-Philadelphia Branch Manager, Equitable Advisors, and CEO, Firstrust Financial Resources

Marlton, New Jersey-based Schwartz Financial Associates joined Equitable Advisors from Cetera Advisor Networks. The mother-son duo of Tamara Kukainis and Daniel Kukainis oversee approximately $175 million in client assets. Since 1997, Tamara has led the practice that her father, Julian Schwartz, started in 1958.

Equitable Advisors, the wealth management business of the insurance products and retirement plan provider Equitable, had $80.4 billion in assets under administration (AUA) as of June 30  and approximately 4,100 financial professionals serving 2.8 million clients nationwide.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tamara and Daniel to Equitable Advisors,” said David Fleisher, Greater-Philadelphia Branch Manager for Equitable Advisors and CEO of Firstrust Financial Resources, which the pair are joining. “Schwartz Financial Associates is a successful organization that shares our values and approach to client service. We are honored that they selected us to support the next chapter of their business.”

2. Kestra PWS Brings On $200 Million Edward Jones Team, Its Sixth Utah-Based Firm

Rob Bartenstein, Senior Managing Director and CEO, Kestra PWS

Salt Lake City-based Catalyst Retirement Solutions, which manages $200 million in client assets, joined Kestra Financial subsidiary Kestra Private Wealth Services. Klint Kennedy and father-son duo Garren Decker and Bryce Decker lead the team, which is the sixth Utah-based firm to join the PWS network. They previously were with Edward Jones.

Long-time Office Manager Cortney Judkins, who brings 30 years of industry experience, also joins them. Garren Decker has 25 years of experience, Kennedy has 13 years of experience and Bryce Decker has five years of experience. Kestra Financial is a subsidiary of Kestra Holdings, whose companies collectively oversee $111.3 billion in assets and support more than 1,800 independent financial professionals.

“At Kestra PWS, we’re energized by the opportunity to support firms like Catalyst Retirement Solutions that are so fervently dedicated to supporting their clients’ needs,” said Rob Bartenstein, Senior Managing Director and CEO of Kestra PWS. “We look forward to the opportunity to enhance the existing talents of Klint, Garren, Bryce, and their team by providing them with tools, technology, and support to help create the best outcomes for their clients and the firm.”

3. Rockefeller Recruits $500 Million Florida Team From Merrill Lynch

David Harvan, Private Advisor, Managing Director, Rockefeller Global Family Office

New York-based Rockefeller Global Family Office recruited Harvan McKenzie Wealth Partners, which has more than $500 million in assets under management (AUM), according to Forbes. The team consists of Private Advisors David Harvan and James McKenzie, Senior Client Relationship Manager Sandra Stiger, and Investment Strategist Alexander Villacampa.

The Jupiter, Florida-based team previously was at Merrill Lynch. Harvan has 24 years of industry experience and McKenzie has 25 years of experience. Parent company Rockefeller Capital Management oversees approximately $112 billion in client assets across 49 offices worldwide. It was founded as John D. Rockefeller’s full-service family office over 140 years ago.

“We are pleased to welcome Harvan McKenzie Wealth Partners, of Palm Beach, FL, to Rockefeller Global Family Office,” the company posted on LinkedIn. “Led by Managing Directors and Private Advisors David Harvan and James McKenzie, the four-person team brings significant expertise and experience in providing strategic advice to high-net-worth individuals, families, and small- to medium-size business entrepreneurs.”

4. NewEdge Advisors Helps Launch $500 Million Riverside Wealth Partners In Florida

Alex Goss, Co-CEO, NewEdge Advisors

New Orleans-based NewEdge Advisors helped launch Jacksonville, Florida-based Riverside Wealth Partners, which is led by Bill Laird. He has over 20 years of industry experience and previously managed approximately $500 million in assets at FORVIS Wealth Advisors. He is joined by Brooke Stanford, Client Experience Director and Senior Financial Advisor, and Michelle Laird, Client Service Associate.

NewEdge Advisors is part of Pittsburgh-based NewEdge Capital Group, which also includes NewEdge Wealth and the broker-dealer NewEdge Securities. NewEdge Capital Group, the wealth management business unit of EdgeCo Holdings, serves more than 300 advisors who collectively oversee more than 75,000 client accounts.

“We are proud to welcome Bill and Riverside Wealth Partners to the NewEdge Advisors family,” said Alex Goss, Co-CEO of NewEdge Advisors. “This team’s dedication to nurturing advisor-client relationships and going the extra mile to provide a premier client experience set them apart and we are thrilled that they will now have the tools and support to deliver the kinds of services they know their clients need moving into the future.”

Mergers & Acquisitions

5. Sequoia To Acquire $930 Million M Capital Advisors, Its Fourth Deal Of 2023

Tom Haught, Founder and CEO, Sequoia Financial Group

Akron, Ohio-based Sequoia Financial Group, which has over $15 billion in AUM, agreed to acquire M Capital Advisors, which oversees $930 million in AUM. M Capital, which has 13 professionals, has offices in Nashville, Tennessee, and San Antonio. The team has been providing customized portfolio management services to individuals and institutions for over three decades.

Sequoia has announced four acquisitions in 2023, including Zeke Capital Advisors, Cirrus Wealth Management and Affinia Financial Group. The M Capital acquisition will bring Sequoia to 250 employees. The firm provides wealth and asset management, estate and retirement planning, fiduciary consulting and family wealth for clients ranging from individuals to family offices.

“M Capital has demonstrated its investment acumen on behalf of clients for decades, and its exceptional investment management capabilities will further strengthen ours,” said Tom Haught, Founder and CEO of Sequoia. “The leadership team at M Capital shares our commitment to providing service offerings that are built expressly for clients, and we look forward to doing just that as we join forces.”

6. Focus-Backed Buckingham To Acquire 2 Firms With Combined $578 Million In AUM

Travis Danysh, Head of Mergers and Acquisitions, Focus Financial Partners

St. Louis-based Buckingham Strategic Wealth, a Focus Financial Partners firm, agreed to acquire Rochester Hills, Michigan-based LifePlan Financial Advisory Group and Lincoln, Rhode Island-based Briggs Advisory Group. LifePlan had approximately $157 million in AUM as of its March SEC ADV and Briggs had approximately $421 million in AUM as of its July SEC ADV. Buckingham has over $24 billion in AUM.

In September, Focus Financial was taken private in an all-cash transaction by Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and Stone Point Capital. At the time, Focus had an enterprise value in excess of $7 billion. Focus had been a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ for five years, since Stone Point and KKR took it public in 2018.

“The addition of well aligned advisory talent continues to bolster Buckingham’s growth and solidify their position as the premier home for evidence-based RIAs,” said Travis Danysh, Head of Mergers and Acquisitions for Focus. “We remain excited to support their growth with our M&A expertise and resources.”

Strategic Partnerships

7. $6.5 Billion Sammons And $5 Billion NorthRock Join Forces

Esfand Dinshaw, CEO, Sammons Financial Group

West Des Moines, Iowa-based Sammons Financial Group and Minneapolis-based NorthRock Partners entered a strategic partnership, by joining forces to expand a client-centric approach to wealth management. NorthRock has $5 billion in AUM and Sammons had $6.5 billion in AUM as of its March SEC ADV.

NorthRock provides financial and lifestyle advice along with investments, tax, insurance, legal and estate, and charitable giving strategies. NorthRock X supports athletes and entertainers, its Foundation X supports philanthropists and foundations, and its NRX Hockey supports professional hockey players. Sammons’ companies include Midland National Life Insurance Company, North American Company for Life and Health Insurance, Sammons Institutional Group and Beacon Capital Management.

“We’ve been carefully assessing market opportunities to grow our successful business – specifically in wealth management, which is a natural fit for us given our economic strength, stability and decades’ long track-record of leadership in financial services,” said Esfand Dinshaw, CEO of Sammons Financial Group. “As we defined our strategy, we conducted a comprehensive search, and NorthRock Partners consistently rose to the top of our list.”

Promotions & People Moves

8. Morgan Stanley Names Co-President Ted Pick To Succeed James Gorman As CEO

Ted Pick, Co-President and Incoming CEO, Morgan Stanley

Morgan Stanley named Co-President Edward “Ted” Pick to succeed outgoing CEO James Gorman, effective Jan. 1, when Pick will also join the Board of Directors. Co-President Andy Saperstein will become the Head of Wealth and Investment Management. Gorman, who has been CEO for 14 years, will become Executive Chairman.

Pick also is Co‐Head of Firm Strategy and Head of the Institutional Securities Group, for which he oversees Investment Banking, Equities, Fixed Income, Capital Markets and Research. He joined Morgan Stanley in 1990. Pick previously was Global Head of Sales and Trading, and Head of Equity Capital Markets.

“Morgan Stanley is a storied institution, and I am deeply honored to have been chosen to lead it,” Pick said. “We have a global diversified business with a leading client franchise. Thanks to James’ excellent leadership, our firm is now well-positioned to succeed across market cycles, and I am excited about the opportunities for future growth.”

Chris Latham, Managing Editor at Wealth Solutions Report, can be reached at

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