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Merrill Lynch Doesn’t Share My Idea of a Client-First Approach as Closely as RBC

By Miriam Rozen November 9, 2018

A 46-year-old managing director and financial advisor moved his Beverly Hills, Calif.-based team with $550 million in assets under management from Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management to Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Wealth Management last month. The chief reason Nick Ciriello left the wirehouse where he had worked for the past 16 years: “As I look ahead to the next 20 years of my career, I needed to find a partner who shares my client-first approach.”

A caravan of advisors, including another Merrill Lynch team based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. with $230 million in assets under management, has migrated to RBC recently.

“In our industry, the dynamics are changing. It continues to evolve in a lot of different ways,” Ciriello says.

The smaller size of RBC’s 1,800-advisor roster, compared to Merrill Lynch’s more than 14,000, lets his new firm’s management help him tailor services in a way which was impossible with his former employer, Ciriello says.

RBC is “more responsive to making customization possible for my clients,” he says. At RBC, he has “a direct line of communication with senior management” and they are “open to things that are little bit out of the box,” Cirello says.

It wasn’t one management decision at Merrill Lynch that triggered his decision to move, Ciriello says. Rather, he grew weary of the cumulative impact of constant iterations about what Merrill Lynch's managers wanted advisors to be doing and what specific set of products and services they encouraged advisors to focus on each year. “I know that what I want is a platform that is stable and consistent. If each year there are moving targets that may strain or distract me from my ability to focus on long-term investments for clients, which should be the goal, it might make an advisor take the eye off the ball,” Ciriello says.

Before his team chose to move to RBC, he engaged in significant due diligence on possible new homes for his practice, Ciriello says. RBC’s increased investment in technology made it particularly attractive, Ciriello says.

(Getty)

According to Ann Senne, head of advice and solutions group for RBC Wealth Management, RBC has more than doubled its technology investment in the past two years. For his part, Ciriello particularly liked RBC’s deal with Envestnet, announced in 2018, to launch AdvisoryLink – software which consolidates clients’ portfolio reports on a single desktop portal – and RBC’s decision to offer its advisors use of both EMoney and MoneyGuidePro planning tools.

Although pleased with his team’s move overall, Ciriello stresses the transition has been laborious.

“It’s lots and lots of work. It takes you away from your family and friends. It’s not a pleasure. You do it because you look over at the longer term and figure it will be worth it,” he says.