High-End Merrill Broker in Manhattan Sets Up Independent Advisory Firm

A team of four advisors who worked with wealthy clients within Merrill’s elite Private Banking and Investment Group left on Friday to launch an independent advisory and brokerage firm in New York City, according to Dynasty Financial Partners, which is working with the group.

Avestar Capital is led by Xerxes Mullan, a 13-year Merrill veteran who left the firm’s midtown Manhattan Bryant Park office with a managing director’s title and a practice focusing on middle-market entrepreneurs. About 15% of Mullan’s clients reside in his native India, he said in an interview.

“What we’re trying to create is a multi-family office business (with) access to independent thinking,” Mullan said. “Merrill was a great platform…but it was not a good fit for the kind of business we wanted to build with objective aggregation of data across the balance sheet rather than on one platform.”

Mullan, whose team includes three other advisors and two client associates who were with him at Merrill, declined to disclose his production or assets under management. He became a managing director at PBIG, whose brokers work primarily with clients who have $10 million or more of investable assets, prior to the unit’s restriction of the title to brokers who accumulate at least $2.5 million in annual production credits for two consecutive years or break the $3.75 million barrier in a single year.

A Dynasty spokeswoman declined to comment, other than to say that the New York-based firm works only with teams that manage at least $300 million in assets.

Avestar, which is purchasing asset management and technology services from Dynasty, is affiliating with Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments Corp. for brokerage services. PKS, an independent broker-dealer in Albany, works with many fee-based advisers who retain their brokerage licenses to collect 12b-1 fees and other ancillary brokerage revenue. Avestar custodies with Fidelity Investments.

Mullan joined Merrill in 2003 after working as an intern at Goldman Sachs. His Avestar teammates include Tonya Smoake, the firm’s chief operating officer and advisors Sanjeet Dass and Jennifer Wolf.