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Michelle Gruber and Alex Markowitz Alteri Wealth RIA news
Alteri Wealth co-founders Michelle Gruber (left) and Alex Markowitz

$1B California Team Leaves Merrill to Go Independent

Michelle Gruber and Alex Markowitz are co-founding Alteri Wealth, operating out of Westlake Village. The firm will custody with Schwab.

A team of Merrill Lynch advisors with more than $1 billion in managed assets is going independent, opting to custody with Schwab.

Michelle Gruber and Alex Markowitz are forming Alteri Wealth in Westlake Village, Calif., about 16 miles outside of Malibu. The firm will specialize in working with business founders and entrepreneurs, physicians, athletes, entertainers, women in transition to retirement and “family stewards” who want multigenerational planning.

“We found ourselves wondering if there was a better way to serve clients,” Gruber said. “Founding Alteri Wealth is the culmination of our vision and provides us with the freedom and framework needed to fulfill our mission, embracing the fiduciary standard and always acting in the best interest of our clients.”

Senior Vice President Matthew Mullaly is also joining Gruber and Markowitz; the trio worked together at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. The Alteri team also consists of Veronica Hoy as chief operating officer, Roseann Higgins as chief compliance officer, Breann Young as client relationship manager, Celina Whinery as client operations manager and Cheyenne Meinecke as client experience manager.

In addition to wealth management services for high-net-worth clients, the firm will operate as a family office for ultra-high-net-worth families, with a focus on tax and trust planning and wealth transfer.

Gruber and Markowitz spent 15 and 13 years at Merrill, respectively. Gruber joined the industry in 2002 at UBS after working in commercial mortgage, and she focuses on financial planning, tax minimization and generational wealth transfer. Markowitz initially pursued a medical degree, but he moved into financial services with Merrill in 2011, eventually becoming a senior vice president.

According to Markowitz, the firm needed a custodian/brokerage after setting out on their own, and they opted for Charles Schwab “due to their robust platform,” and the access independent firms get thanks to Schwab Advisor Services and the Schwab Advisor Family Office.

In the past several weeks, Merrill has lost several teams to the independent space, including a $490 million Florida-based team that left the wirehouse to open its own firm by affiliating with Raymond James’ independent advisor channel. In late April, a Texas-based advisor with about $820 million in managed assets jumped ship from Merrill Lynch to join LPL’s independent model.

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