$3.3-Mln Merrill ‘Community Markets’ Team Shifts to Sanctuary in Texas

A Merrill Lynch team generating around $3.3 million in annual revenue in Lufkin, Texas, has broken away to reunite with former colleagues at an independent broker-dealer, according to an announcement from the hiring firm.

Roy Maxwell (Max) Alvis, who spent all but the first year of his 32-year career at Merrill, led his six-person team to Sanctuary Wealth on Friday. The group, which includes two junior advisors and three client associates, had overseen $460 million in client assets, according to Sanctuary.

Alvis had been a producing manager overseeing a Lufkin branch that was part of Merrill’s community markets initiative focused on brokerage offices outside the footprint of Merrill’s Bank of America parent, according to Vince Fertitta, Sanctuary’s president and former Merrill regional director. Alvis had been contemplating a move for three years as part of an eventual succession plan, said Fertitta, who had known Alvis for more than two decades.

Alvis opted to forgo a sweetened Client Transition Program that Merrill opened in November because he felt that the inheriting brokers would be tied to Merrill in order to pay off the book. Inherited accounts are also said to be harder to move given non-solicit agreements.

“He felt like the company is not what it used to be,” Fertitta said. “He didn’t think it was fair to tether his team to Merrill Lynch.”

Under its succession program, Sanctuary buys a 20% ownership stake in the practice and underwrites the purchase of 80% for the inheriting advisors, who repay the firm over a period of five years.

At Sanctuary, Alvis will be partnering with two other former Merrill producing managers, George Georgiades in College Station, Texas, and Robert Gilliland in Houston, who have set up a joint venture called 6 Degrees Wealth that seeks to recruit and “tuck in” other brokers. The rest of Alvis’ group includes advisors, Will Alvis (his nephew), and Alexis Hudson Pigg as well as client associates Jennifer Hansard, Elisabeth Alvis Kennedy and Viridiana Cruz.

Indianapolis-based Sanctuary, which launched in 2018 from a takeover of regional brokerage David A. Noyes & Company, has a total of 71 partner firms with around $25 billion in assets. It is majority owned by Italian asset manager Azimut Group. In July, it received a capital infusion of $175 million structured as a convertible note from credit manager Kennedy Lewis Investment Management, which itself sold a minority stake to Azimut in 2020.

Fertitta and Sanctuary CEO Jim Dickson, who had previously overseen Merrill’s Greater Midwest market, have often leaned on their old firm in expanding their new enterprise, particularly in Texas. Sanctuary has hired 10 Merrill teams and 11 former managers (including seven producing managers) in Fertitta’s former Texas Mountain South region, according to the executive.

Seven of the advisors, including Alvis, have come from a Merrill community market, Fertitta said.

The community markets strategy launched in 2018 was aimed at growing and retaining brokers in Merrill offices outside of Bank of America’s footprint. But some teams still feel left out, Fertitta said.

“You don’t get bank referrals of clients because there’s no bank there,” Fertitta said. “You’re still under the same scrutiny and incentive plans for referring credit cards and mortgages, but their clients don’t have any affinity to Bank of America.”

A Merrill spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment. The Lufkin branch lists two advisors other than Alvis’ group on its website.