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Morgan Stanley Team Joins $6B Wealth Manager in Texas

Americana Partners is adding the group of eight in Midland, Texas, to expand its focus on oil and gas family wealth.


(Bloomberg) -- A Morgan Stanley Wealth Management team that oversaw $715 million has left to join Americana Partners, an investment adviser in Texas with more than $6 billion in assets.

Houston-based Americana is adding the group of eight in Midland, Texas, to expand its focus on oil and gas family wealth, the firm said Monday. The new Permian Basin office will be led by Phillip Knight, 37, and Amy Lawler, 36, who will both be Americana partners, as well as private wealth advisers Charles Bailey and J. Tom Snelson, both 37.

“This team has done the best job of anyone in the Permian Basin of growing a client-focused business quickly,” Americana Chief Executive Officer Jason Fertitta, 50, said in an interview. He formed Americana in 2019 with a team from Morgan Stanley that managed money for multigenerational families, many in the energy sector.

The team in Midland, located about 330 miles west of Dallas, has been together since 2014 and was brought to Americana by Dynasty Financial Partners, which supports breakaway brokers wanting to go independent. Fertitta said Americana, which has offices in Dallas and Austin, is in talks with six or seven other teams in Sun Belt states across the southern US.

Texas is a prime market for wealth advisers looking to bring in ultra-high-net-worth clients. There are currently 23 Texas billionaires among the world’s 500 richest people, with a combined net worth of $464 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Eighteen of them are involved in oil and gas.

Americana recognizes the Permian Basin’s importance for the economy and national security, “while other large firms shy away from the oil and gas industry,” Fertitta said.

“We were excited to join a firm that honors the energy industry and believes in its importance for the economy and the world,” said Knight, who’s also a managing director at Americana.

The Midland team adds to a number of high-profile hires at Americana who joined after long stints at Morgan Stanley.

Ronald Thacker, a former managing director at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management and Fertitta’s long-time mentor, joined Americana in 2021 as president. Based in Austin, his mandate was to help Americana expand in Texas and other states after leading Morgan Stanley’s central region management team, overseeing more than 2,000 financial advisers in 13 states.

Along with Thacker, Americana brought in David Darst, who had been Morgan Stanley’s chief investment strategist for 17 years. 

--With assistance from Jack Witzig.

To contact the author of this story:
Suzanne Woolley in New York at [email protected]

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