Seven Depart Merrill Lynch

Seven wealth-management employees have left Merrill Lynch & Co.'s Little Rock office for Atlanta-based StillPoint Advisors Inc. — and did so without going to court.

Christopher J. Collier, Mike Arthur, Jim Alguire, Matt McDaniel and their sales assistants made a clean break from Merrill Lynch without noncompete contracts and with every intention of bringing their clients with them.

And Merrill Lynch, a company that hasn't shied away from litigation against former employees, doesn't appear to be filing suit any time soon.

A spokesman for Merrill Lynch said the company does not comment on employees, past or present. But Tony Greene, managing director of marketing at StillPoint, said he doesn't expect any legal action.

It's not Stillpoint's first "lift out," as Greene calls it, but is the first in Arkansas. And in such instances, Greene said, StillPoint has the employees leave with "the no paper clip rule," he said. Same goes for StillPoint's new Arkansas addition.

"They can't bring anything with them that was bought, purchased or provided by Merrill Lynch," Greene said. "Basically, we want them to walk out clean."

The team did, however, walk out with some compensation from its new employer. Merrill Lynch, on the other hand, got no compensation. In fact, they'll probably end up losing some clients.

Greene said, "The teams we recruit are usually successful in bringing their clients with them."

As for StillPoint's new team, Greene said company policy keeps him from commenting on the exact figures of their past performance. He did say, however, "They were one of the top performing teams in their region and one of the top teams in the country."

StillPoint was launched last spring, after executives spent more than a year researching the market.

Greene said the company prides itself on not locking clients into certain products. Collier echoed those sentiments in a press release.

"StillPoint's independence and freedom from proprietary product were a huge enticement for us to join forces," Collier said. "We can now offer a broad spectrum of services and products advantageous for our individual families, rather than trying to squeeze them into a predefined box of available products."

It's a message the company will soon try to sell to Arkansans. Greene said it's the company's goal to become the largest independent wealth management firm in the state.