The exodus of veteran financial advisor heavyweights going from larger firms to smaller star-tup groups so to pursue their dreams of independence has picked up from where it left off last year.

New York-based Dynasty Financial Partners yesterday announced it had signed up another breakaway practice. After more than two decades working as a broker at several Wall Street firms, financial adviser Larry King tapped the 14-month-old wealth management start-up to help build out his new independent practice.

King and partner Daniel Gale, who left Morgan Stanley Smith Barney last week, are launching King Wealth Management Group, the ninth advisor firm to join Dynasty, which has expanded over the past year by attracting breakaway veteran brokers. Advisors Jane Quinn and Casey Congel will also join King Wealth Management Group, which is based in Saratoga Springs, N.Y..

Meanwhile, a quartet of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management advisors led by John Beirne Jr. have launched an independent registered investment advisor (RIA) with the help of Focus Financial Partners LLC. Operating as Beirne Wealth Management Group in Milford, Conn., the firm opened up shop on Feb. 6. Three support staff also made the move with the group, which manages close to $2 billion in assets.

For King, CIO and managing partner of King Wealth Management Group, and Daniel Gale, a senior partner, who will lead the firm, it's a significant change. With over 22 years in the industry, King was an advisor at Merrill Lynch and Prudential Securities before joining Morgan Stanley.

Dynasty's forte is providing technological and administrative support for advisors who want to go independent but lack the financial wherewithal of a large company. Dynasty now boasts nine partnering advisor firms, giving it over $10 billion in assets under management. The firm targets advisors in the top 2% to 3% of the advisor population, focusing on those with $300 million or more in assets under management.

Beirne and his team were prompted to jump ship by Merrill's move to stop advisors from signing up new accounts managing money for government agencies, cities and states. "About 60 percent to 70 percent of our revenues come from that space,'' said Beirne, a 33-year veteran of Merrill Lynch. "[Merrill] basically told us we can't grow in that market."

Merrill Lynch officials said the changes were needed because of new compliance regulations in the Dodd-Frank Act. However, Beirne said he approached other large wirehouses that told him they weren't instituting the same rules.

Beirne's founding partners, John Beirne Jr., John-Oliver Beirne and Jim Betzig, managed more than $2 billion in client assets when at Merrill Lynch. Eric Passeri is also joining the team. They worked as the Beirne Wealth Management Group at Merrill Lynch. Beirne has been a specialist in public pension fund management for four decades.

Beirne said his new firm will continue to manage money for institutions, as well as for high-net-worth individuals and families. It will use Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services as its primary custodian for client assets.

The move represents another coup for Focus Financial, a consulting service that establishes independent RIAs from wirehouse teams. Founded in 2006, New York-based Focus Financial is an international partnership of independent wealth management firms. The firm handles roughly $45 billion in client assets.

-Jim McConville