Bradley Bruce is a well-known wealth management advisor in Fort Worth. And no wonder. In his 33-year-career, he has garnered praise and awards, such as being named to the Forbes’ “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” list in 2021 as well as to Barron’s list of “Top 1,200 Financial Advisors” in 2021 for the eighth consecutive year. He was also named to the Financial Times “400 Top Financial Advisers” (FT 400) list in 2020.
But times change, as do organizations and people. So, Bruce, who had spent the entirety of his career with Merrill Lunch, rising to the position of Managing Director, Senior Resident Director, Wealth Management Advisor, decided to make some changes with the goal of offering more solutions for his many clients.
It was a big step and a big change. It meant leaving his longtime firm and building a new business, more or less from scratch. However, it hadn’t come out of the blue. Not just Bruce but several other former Merrill Lynch leaders had been considering venturing out on their own as well.
“The advisory business changed a lot in the last few years, and we wanted to take advantage of that,” said Bruce, now founder, CEO and Wealth Management Advisor, mFORCE Capital. “Our practice has grown to the point where clients need more complex solutions than we had been able to offer and we wanted to be a little more creative in helping them.”
So Bruce founded mFORCE Capital, an independent firm that is part of Sanctuary Wealth. Along with Bruce, mFORCE Capital includes three other team members from Merrill Lynch Wealth Management where they were known as the Bruce Wealth Management Group, managing $1.22 billion in client assets.
“In my due diligence I looked at broker-dealers, wire houses, and every other option out there, and Sanctuary just made the most sense. Most importantly for our clients, joining Sanctuary really gives us the flexibility to shop the whole market to find the most appropriate solutions for their particular situation,” Bruce said.
Joining Bruce at mFORCE Capital is Joanna Horton, who will serve as COO, Wealth Management Advisor. Prior to joining Merrill in 2016, she spent 25 years with Capital Institutional Services in Dallas, serving as Director of Global Trading, running the largest institutional global trading desk in the Southwest for 15 years. Horton has an MBA from Dallas Baptist University and holds Series 3, 4, 7, 8, 24, 53, 55, 63, and 65 FINRA registrations.
Also on the team are April Bierle, who began as an intern with Merrill in 1995 and will be Director of Office Relations and Senior Client Relationship Manager; and Cheryl McCarson, who joined the team 10 years ago and will now be Senior Client Relationship Manager.
mFORCE Capital is the eighth team in Texas to choose partnered independence with Sanctuary Wealth and brings the total of new assets added to the network this year to more than $6.5 billion.
Bruce was familiar with the founder of Sanctuary, Jim Dickson, who had been with Merrill Lynch and Vince Fertitta, President, Wealth Management, Sanctuary Wealth, who also had been with Merrill Lynch.
“Jim went out and started a firm called Sanctuary Wealth. Sanctuary Wealth is a back office, regulatory compliance investment platform. They do investment banking. They have a capital markets group now. They do different things, like family office offerings, but he was building it as a service unit for what he thought at the time was going to be breakaway advisors.”
Indianapolis-based Sanctuary Wealth bills itself as the platform for the next generation of elite advisors with an entrepreneurial spirit to build and own their own practices and who desire the freedom to deliver the tailored services their clients deserve. Sanctuary provides a complete technology and operations platform, as well as support from a community of like-minded advisors and the resources of invaluable affiliated businesses. Currently, the Sanctuary Wealth network includes partner firms across 20 states with over $16 billion in assets under advisement. The Sanctuary Wealth Group includes the fully owned subsidiaries Sanctuary Advisors, a registered investment adviser, and the broker-dealer Sanctuary Securities, as well as Sanctuary Alternative Solutions, Sanctuary Insurance Solutions, Sanctuary Global, and Sanctuary Global Tax and Family Office.
Going independent was a risk to himself and his family, he said.
“I walked in the office that last morning with a pretty successful business practice and I walked out at 9:31 with nothing,” he said. “But by Saturday afternoon, we had a hell of a commit. My client responses have been overwhelmingly positive and I’m just so humbled. I mean, it really just touches me how sweet and, trusting and just caring they are.”
Bruce’s career dates back to 1988, about a year after the 1987 crash.
“I was headed to New York to do investment banking and had a couple job offers,” he said. “By the spring of ’88 or by the fall, December of ’88, those job offers disappeared. I graduated college in the spring of ’88. I did a two year internship at Merrill, Fayetteville Arkansas, which is where I’m from, where I went to school. And so I said, ‘I’ll work at Merrill for a couple of years and let the markets rebound.’ And I was there [until he began mFORCE].”
He came to Fort Worth in July 1988 just after his graduation and, as he says, “I didn’t know a soul. I had bad shoes and a secondhand suit.”
Bruce found Fort Worth a place where a new person can make inroads in the business world.
“They open their arms, they embrace you and really, I could not have picked a better spot,” he said. “I had resumes out surrounding Arkansas, every state, and Fort Worth picked me up first and here I am.”
That Merrill Lynch career proved eventful. Bruce rose to the position of Managing Director, Senior Resident Director, Wealth Management Advisor. He has earned the designation of Certified Private Wealth Advisor and Certified Investment Management Analyst from the Investments & Wealth Institute, and the Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor designation from National Association of Plan Advisors as well as the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning. Most recently, in February 2020, he earned the Certified Exit Planning Advisor designation through the Exit Planning Institute.
For this next chapter of his career, Bruce said, he is pleased his team have joined him at mFORCE and that his clients have embraced the change.
“We have all embraced this. It doesn’t work without them,” he said. “We’re all working tremendous hours right now to make sure everything is transferred as quickly and as safely as possible. And the response has been overwhelming.
“This is a group that is built for service. This is a group that was built for creativity. This is a group that is built with experience.”
Leadership at Indianapolis-based Sanctuary said mFORCE will add to its growing list of independent firms.
“We couldn’t be happier that Brad and his team have chosen Sanctuary’s partnered independence as the best platform for them to serve their base of highly sophisticated clients. It’s really a testament to what Sanctuary Wealth has become in such a short period of time,” said Sanctuary’s CEO Dickson. “Texas is an extremely strong market for us, but we will continue to expand into additional centers of wealth around the country throughout the coming months.”
“I’ve known Brad for years. His office was in my division at Merrill, and I’ve always had tremendous respect for his strong work ethic and intense devotion to his clients,” said Fertitta, President, Wealth Management, Sanctuary Wealth. “We’re extremely gratified that he chose to join Sanctuary Wealth and I personally look forward to working together again and helping Brad and his team propel mFORCE Capital to even greater growth.”
Bruce says mFORCE is ready to move forward.
“I’m excited about tapping into Sanctuary’s diverse resources and the depth of knowledge in the network to grow my wealth management practice to the next level,” Bruce said. “I now have endless possibilities for my clients and for myself. It’s a vision that’s grand but I know it all starts with taking care of clients to the best of our abilities.”
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