ON THE MOVE-Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo land Merrill Lynch teams

By Ashley Lau

Oct 8 (Reuters) - Two veteran broker teams from Bank ofAmerica's Merrill Lynch have departed for rival firmsMorgan Stanley Wealth Management and Wells Fargo Advisors,according to sources with knowledge of the moves.

In Georgia, advisers Ronald York, Michael Reese, his sonMichael "Will" Reese, and Jason Jenkins moved to Morgan StanleyWealth Management from Merrill's Augusta office. The teammanaged about $327 million in client assets and generated morethan $2 million in annual revenue last year.

York and the elder Reese were both senior financial advisersat Merrill Lynch and had been at the firm for 36 years and 27years, respectively, according to regulatory filings.

The team remained based in Augusta, with Morgan StanleyWealth Management, the brokerage formed from the merger ofMorgan Stanley's wealth business and Citigroup'sSmith Barney in 2009. The firm, majority owned by MorganStanley, is often neck-and-neck with Merrill Lynch for the spotas top U.S. brokerage by client assets and headcount.

Also on the move, California-based advisers Stephen Meli andDennis Fox left Merrill Lynch for Wells Fargo Advisors, thebrokerage owned by Wells Fargo & Co . The advisersmanaged about $160 million in client assets at Merrill and hadan annual production of more than $1 million in revenue.

Meli was a senior vice president at Merrill Lynch, where hewas also a branch manager in the firm's Westlake Village office.The team remained based in Westlake Village, a wealthy communityin the greater Los Angeles area.

Meli and Fox joined Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network,or "FiNet," the company's independent broker-dealer catering toadvisers who also function as business owners.

Bank of America's Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley WealthManagement and Wells Fargo Advisors are the top three U.S.brokerages by client assets and headcount and often vie for thesame groups of advisers.

The three firms did not immediately return requests forconfirmation of the moves, but regulatory filings show theGeorgia-based team moved on Oct. 5 and the California-based teammoved on Sept. 28.

(Reporting by Ashley Lau in New York; Editing by Kenneth Barry)

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