$500M Merrill Team Exits to Start RIA, Broker with $325M Joins LPL Employee Unit

Merrill Lynch brokers managing a combined $825 million have shed their wirehouse jerseys to open independent practices.

In the larger move, a team based in Harrison, New York exited to open a registered investment advisory firm called Sykon Capital, according to an announcement on Tuesday from tru Independence LLC, a service provider for RIAs. The group, who left Merrill on June 2, is led by 40-year industry veteran Stephen Ruvituso and had managed $500 million in assets at Merrill.

Advisors ​​Todd Stankiewicz, Joseph Castiglie III and Shawn Tuefel, along with client associate Julie Ackerman, moved with him. Both Ruvituso and Tuefel split their time between New York and Florida, according to a spokesperson for tru.

The spokesperson declined to comment on their annual production.

Ruvituso, who is chairman and chief executive officer of Sykon, started his career in 1982 at Gabriele, Hueglin & Cashman, Inc. and worked at several firms including Oppenheimer, Morgan Stanley and UBS Wealth Management USA before landing at Merrill in 2013, according to his BrokerCheck profile.

Sykon custodies with Charles Schwab Corp., according to its form ADV. The name is a reference to the Greek word for fig, which has “long been associated with knowledge and creation, as well as with peace and prosperity,” according to its website.

Tru Independence, which works with 32 firms, has contracted with four RIAs this year, including another Merrill breakaway in May who left a team that included his father and brother in order to start his own firm. It also signed an existing RIA, Gainline Financial Partners in early June and Seven Mile Advisory in April.

Separately, in another departure last week, a Merrill lifer overseeing $325 million left the wirehouse for LPL Financial in Austin, Texas, according to an announcement from LPL. Christopher J. Coffin, who generated almost $2 million in annual revenue, joined Linsco, LPL’s employee brokerage unit, on June 14, according to BrokerCheck.

Coffin, who started in the industry in 2008, is a second-generation broker. His father, Roderick F. Coffin II, retired from Merrill in 2018 after 43 years, according to the announcement and BrokerCheck records.

“Through LPL and Linsco, I have the flexibility to build the business I want, putting clients’ best interest at the forefront of everything I do,” Coffin said in a statement. He is the anchor tenant in a new Linsco office in Austin, according to the announcement.

LPL, which has over 21,000 brokers, seeded Linsco in 2019 with the purchase of Allen & Co. and rolled it out along with other affiliation models that it said would help it appeal to a broader range of prospective recruits with higher production than those in its traditional independent channel. (The average annualized advisory fees and commissions per broker at LPL was $291,000 in the first quarter, according to its latest earnings release.)

LPL Chief Executive Dan Arnold said in December that the channel may even eventually attract independent brokers tired of “running everything themselves.”

Since its inception, Linsco has 52 advisors across 38 teams in addition to those who joined through Allen & Co. and its purchase of Boenning & Scattergood in 2023, according to a LPL spokesperson.

A spokesperson for Merrill did not immediately respond to a request for comment on both moves.

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