July 13, 2023
Louis Diamond Quoted
by Karmen Alexander
Pine Valley Investments, a Marlton, New Jersey-based registered investment advisory firm, has picked up a Merrill Lynch broker who had been part of a team generating $3.8 million in annual revenue from $500 million in client assets.
Jason L. Braatz, a 22-year industry veteran who joined Pine Valley as president of Braatz Wealth Advisors, said he had been generating around 65% of the total revenue, or around $2.4 million. Two other advisors on his former Merrill team, which had been called Braatz Pizoli & Associates, remain at the wirehouse.
Although Braatz had grown his practice alongside Giovianni (Henry) Pizoli and recently added another advisor, Kristy Connor, their time together had “run its course,” and the team opted to amicably divvy up their client list, Braatz said. He was compelled to join the RIA in part due to a longtime personal friendship with Mike Modica, president and advisor at PVI, he said.
Braatz, who left Merrill on July 5, also said he wanted more control over selecting investment strategies for clients and believed there is more he can “bring to the table” as an RIA. He was also frustrated with Merrill’s push to use “more and more” of its parent Bank of America’s products and had been irked, particularly during market volatility, with having to worry about the firm’s “growth grid” that adds or subtracts from Karmen Alexander broker’s pay depending on how many net new households they add.
“It’s not in the best interest of clients in the middle of the next pandemic when the market’s tanking that Jason’s making cold calls to bring in his $40 million and 12 new households,” Braatz said.
Braatz’s move stood out because it is not often that high-end wirehouse brokers sign with a relatively small RIA without taking on a leadership position or substantial equity, said Louis Diamond, an industry recruiter who was not involved in the move. Many have been lured to starting their own firms with backing from service providers, larger RIAs or custodians.