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The Premier Path Wealth Partners team

Six-Person Team Leaves Merrill Lynch, Creates Premier Path RIA

Launched with support from Dynasty Financial Partners, the New Jersey-based team managed $875 million at Merrill.

A six-person team in Florham Park, N.J., has departed Merrill Lynch to build an independent registered investment advisory firm with support from Dynasty Financial Partners.

Led by CEO and Founding Partner Michael Lehman, Dynasty announced the launch of Premier Path Wealth Partners on Tuesday. At the same time, Lehman announced two new hires.  

“We've been thinking about doing this for several years,” Lehman said. “We’re planners and we did our due diligence and looked at everything from making a lateral move to another wirehouse, which we quickly dismissed, to quasi independence to full independence, which became our only choice.”

The team—including Partner and COO Derek Wittjohann; Partner Patrick York; Chief Administrative and Compliance Officer Linda Kalata; and Relationship Managers Rebecca Garcia and Patrick Regan—managed $875 million at Merrill Lynch.

Lehman said he expects to bring a good chunk of those assets over to Premier Path.

“We're very optimistic,” he said. “Obviously, these are decades-long relationships we had but the response has been incredibly enthusiastic when they hear about it too. It aligns our interest with their interest, and it aligns our values with their values—particularly with the business owners, corporate executives and families we work with.

“Their only question at the end was, why didn't you do this 10 years ago?” he said.

Premier is leveraging Dynasty’s expertise around technology, investment research and M&A, while taking full advantage of the platform’s back-office, compliance and marketing support services. The firm has chosen Fidelity as its first broker and custodian, with plans to become multi-custodial down the road. It is using eMoney for financial planning and Black Diamond for portfolio management.

“We are no longer subject to one platform—and that's not against Merrill Lynch, but any wirehouse,” Lehman said. “We are a buyer of the Street and have access to research and products and technology, frankly. We’re also able to put together a team customized to the clients’ needs, and I think we're making that statement right off the bat with the new hires we’ve made.”

Brian Glenn has joined Premier as director of investments and Bill Ehrhardt is the firm’s new head of business advisory services. With decades of industry expertise in advisory services, practice management, succession planning, investment strategy and mergers and acquisitions, Lehman said adding the pair establishes a foundation for Premier’s growth as it seeks to serve UHNW families and business owners.

Lehman said the firm will employ M&A alongside an organic growth strategy after the transition is compete, with a focus on finding like-minded advisors with similar clients.  

“There's no question that I think that we could quadruple [in size] inside of five years, but our focus is on the short term, to build out our infrastructure in the right way, take care of our existing clients right now,” said Lehman. “So, I'm laser focused on our existing clients right now, and I think this independent practice will attract a lot of like-minded advisors and teams.”

“Mike Lehman and his impressive team are a great fit for the independent wealth arena,” Dynasty CEO Shirl Penney said in a statement. “Because of their commitment to staying on the cutting edge of technology and investing, they will flourish with access to the full marketplace of strategies, research and tools.”

In addition to helping launch two brand new firms in 2023, the other from 50-year-old RIA Linscomb & Williams, Dynasty also assisted with the transition of two teams to existing partner firms—one from Wells Fargo and another from Morgan Stanley.

On Monday, Dynasty announced the launch of Dynasty Investment Bank and the extension of M&A advisory services to firms outside the Dynasty network for the first time.

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