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Merrill Lynch Team Goes Indie, Affiliates with LPL

By Alex Padalka August 31, 2017

A duo of Merrill Lynch advisors managing $311 million has gone independent, joining LPL Financial’s broker-dealer and affiliating with an independent advice firm on LPL’s hybrid RIA platform.

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Barton Spector Wealth Strategies, which includes advisor Sharon Barton and certified financial planner Jay Spector, focuses on retirement planning, according to a press release from LPL. Barton Spector will use Stratos Wealth Partners as its RIA and plans to add more advisors and expand its offerings to serve multi-generational clients, LPL says

Barton has spent her entire 31-year career as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, according to her BrokerCheck profile. Spector had been with Merrill Lynch since 2011 after stints at Wells Fargo Advisors and RBC Capital Markets, according to his BrokerCheck profile.

The impetus for going independent was the implementation of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, Barton reveals in LPL’s press release.

“Continued business and culture changes were limiting our ability to support our clients,” she says.

The rule, which purports to require retirement account advisors to put clients’ interests first, went into partial effect in June, although its full implementation date has been pushed back 18 months to July 2019.

Merrill Lynch opted last year to ban commission-based individual retirement accounts ahead of the rule’s implementation, although it’s made some exceptions this spring.

LPL, meanwhile, decided to continue offering both commission- and fee-based accounts but has made moves to standardize compensation in brokerage accounts.

“For Sharon and Jay, who are committed to investor choice and their firm’s continued growth, LPL offers investment solutions designed to maintain choice for their clients,” Steve Pirigyi, the company’s executive vice president of business development, says in the press release.


Several Merrill Lynch advisors have gone independent in recent months. Earlier this month four former Merrill Lynch advisors, one of whom had been with the firm from 1978 to 2015, launched an independent firm partnering with Dynasty Financial Partners. In July, a team of Merrill Lynch advisors collectively overseeing $1 billion also started an indie affiliating with Dynasty.