Merrill Shifts Ex-NFL Player Willie Thomas to New Position

June 14, 2019

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Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has tapped William “Willie” Thomas, manager of its San Francisco complex, to fill a vacancy across the country in Boca Raton, Fla.

Thomas, a former defensive back at Penn State who also played professionally with the Seattle Seahawks, has taken charge of Merrill’s Boca Raton “Boca Tropics” market, a spokeswoman confirmed on Friday.

Thomas, who has been a registered representative since 1996, takes over from Matthew N. Liebman, who stepped down last month and now works as a producer.

In San Francisco, Thomas was overseeing 200 advisors with $30 billion in assets and liabilities as of September 30, 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile. The Boca complex includes about 140 advisors and 75 support staff, Liebman’s LinkedIn profile says.

Thomas did not return a call for comment about his internal move. He spent the first nine years of his brokerage career with the Thundering Herd, returning to the Bank of America-owned company in 2014 after more than eight years at Wells Fargo Advisors and New England Securities, according to his BrokerCheck record.

His shift underscores the accelerating trend at big firms such as Merrill and Morgan Stanley to deploy managers to fill gaps created by departures in other markets. Merrill moved veteran manager Carole Wentz in March from California to oversee its Texas Mountain South division, but another managerial spot opened this week in Los Angeles when complex manager Nathan Crair resigned to join Rockefeller Capital Management.

Merrill also in recent weeks has promoted and shifted managers to fill vacancies in Jacksonville and Dallas.

Some advisers have said that older managers whose strengths centered on their recruiting chops have been leaving wirehouses that have retreated from hiring from competitors. Merrill Lynch Wealth President Andy Sieg said earlier this week that the firm is sticking with its recruiting retreat, and focusing managers on retaining advisors and increasing branch production.

Separately,  Robert McCabe, a former Morgan Stanley branch manager in West Palm Beach, Florida, who left the firm last June, has joined Fieldpoint Private Bank.

McCabe is a long-time acquaintance and former Smith Barney colleague of Robert Matthews, chief executive of Greenwich, Conn.-based Fieldpoint. Matthews ran  wealth management at Smith Barney between 2004 and 2006.

McCabe had worked at Morgan Stanley predecessor firms Smith Barney and Lehman Brothers since 1991, according to his BrokerCheck history.

McCabe, who announced his move on a LinkedIn posting on Thursday, did not respond to a request for comment.

Fieldpoint was founded in 2008 with capital from brokerage luminaries that included former Merrill Lynch chairmen David Komansky, Daniel Tully and William Schreyer, TD Ameritrade chairman Joseph Moglia and Paine Webber/UBS Americas chairman Joe Grano.

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