Merrill Names Ex-UBS Manager to Run Rock Center Branch, Dissolves NYC Complex


July 22, 2020

Wirehouses’ continuing search for middle-management talent has led Merrill Lynch to repost a recent hire from UBS to a prominent location in midtown Manhattan and reorganize its New York City geographies.

Kenneth Correa, a veteran field leader hired last summer from UBS to run a Park Avenue office, has shifted to become Merrill’s Rockefeller Center “market executive,” according to a memo from northeast divisional director Bill Lorenz to employees on Tuesday.

The “Manhattan East” complex that Correa was running, however, will be folded into Merrill’s “flagship” Fifth Avenue complex that is managed by Merrill veteran Matthew Grossman. In compensation, a Manhattan East branch tagged as “Manhattan Central” will be realigned under Correa, according to the memo.

The intricate moves amid the work-from-office constraints of the pandemic reflect the hunger at Merrill, Morgan Stanley and other big firms for managers who can maintain good relationships with advisors while executing new compliance and growth mandates from firms that can irritate advisors.

They also are occurring as Merrill and other firms have curbed recruiting of experienced advisors, a strength of many old-school managers, leading firms to frequently redeploy veterans to fill holes and recruit from competitors.

“We are fortunate to have such talented professionals as part of our leadership team who are in a great position to take on these expanded roles and continue to drive responsible growth in the NYC market,” Lorenz wrote about Correa and Grossman’s expanded assignments.

The Rockefeller Center complex has been without a permanent  leader since February, when Merrill shifted Michael Simonds to head its “Liberty Street”  complex in downtown Manhattan.  Courtney McCarthy, who had been interim manager of the Rock Center complex, will continue in her role as associate market manager, according to the memo.

A Merrill spokeswoman confirmed the contents of the memo but declined to comment on branch sizes. Correa’s LinkedIn profile  said he was overseeing almost 150 “financial professionals”  at the “boutique-style” Manhattan  East complex. The Rockefeller Center complex had around 140 advisors overseeing $22 billion in assets, according to a 2018 listing of top branch managers compiled by “On Wall Street” magazine.

The Merrill spokeswoman declined to comment on the status reopening New York City-area branches to advisors. In earnings calls last week, executives at UBS Wealth Management and Morgan Stanley Wealth Management said it is unlikely that offices will be running at full capacity until a Covid vaccine is available, but some UBS advisors said they returned last week to branches in some New York City suburbs.

Correa has spent the bulk of his 22-year brokerage career in management or sales roles, according to Lorenz’ memo, and also serves as vice chair of Merrill’s Hispanic Latino Advisory Council and of Bank of America New York City Hispanic Latino Business Council.

Correa, who joined UBS in June 1998 as an investment associate, was managing the firm’s “metropolitan market” that included a Park Avenue branch and 140 advisors in New Jersey at the time that he left for Merrill.