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Merrill Edge eases Bank of America's transition to a post-wirehouse world

The Charlotte super bank's plan to add 600 branches builds on success but recruiters say lingering tension between Merrill and Merrill Edge advisors is more of a factor than the bank admits

Author By Lisa Shidler April 3, 2018 at 8:32 PM
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David Poole: We’ve got clients who engage with us across Merrill Lynch and in Merrill Edge self-directed accounts. That’s one of our fastest growing segments where clients are using both.

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Mentioned in this article:

Cerulli Associates
Consulting Firm
Top Executive: Kurt Cerulli

Firstgroup Recruiting Solutions, LLC
Top Executive: Frederic St Laurent Jr

Fred St Laurent

Fred St Laurent

April 3, 2018 — 11:24 PM
I personally, would never call anyone, I was not allowed to call. It is an ethical issue, and the comments I made were taken and changed in a way that I am compelled to correct. I will issue a correction, soon and yes, I recorded the in bound call.
brooke southall

brooke southall

April 4, 2018 — 3:41 AM
Fred, We're not clear what you are saying is off. Let Lisa know in case there is something that can be fixed or clarified. -Brooke
Brooke Southall

Brooke Southall

April 4, 2018 — 3:54 AM
Fred, Now I see what you are concerned about. You were explaining the Merrill Edge advisor's perspective by saying "I" not for yourself but as a way of expressing a quota mentality for a hypothetical advisor. I made a couple tweaks to underscore that that is what you are doing and not saying "I" as a first person pronoun for yourself. -Brooke
Fred St Laurent

Fred St Laurent

April 4, 2018 — 2:38 PM
Thank you, Brooke, My point was that the "new" Advisors being recruited now, by Merrill are given tough goals, and reviews are at 30 -60- and 90 days (even with a 1 year contract) and that some might be tempted to do whatever it takes to reach those goals and keep the 18 month salary and commission they are offered. I get resumes every day, from advisors with 18 months, or less with Merrill, that I can't help. As we all know, Wells Fargo recently fired 5,000 people, who were working a badly structured bonus program, who committed fraud, and Wells / Wachovia caught this internally, much to their credit. This competitive environment that Merrill is creating resembles the mistake Wells made, and it is already impacting the longtime ML brokers. If a Broker notices a lost account and complains, the repercussions are minimized and were described to me as a "slap on the wrist". These are the complaints I am hearing: US Trust is calling my accounts; The Merrill Edge Brokers are identifying banking customers as theirs, and have only left voice mails, and they are also contacting my accounts. I am told that the larger brokers ("Top Producers") accounts are mostly left alone, because when they complain, they have more impact and the Junior Brokers seem to suffer greater consequences, but a smaller producer, who is striving to build their book and loses an account, clearly identified as theirs, complains and nothing of consequence happens to discourage this behavior. 600 new centers, are basically just bank branches, already open, and an office is given to either someone who can pass the 7, or someone who has it, but no real assets to bring. Then this tremendous pressure to hit numbers fast, is placed upon them, and the bank database is open to them. I am hearing they are hiring 10 and keep one, but one credible source told me it is closer to hiring 20 and retaining one FA, for the 18 months. The numbers are not good beyond that. The recruiting is fast and frantic and I was told that if there is a belief someone could sell relationally and was breathing, they would enter them into the program. My questions are, what will this become and how will all of this competitive pressure impact the long term Merrill Lynch Broker? As well as when do you think they will leave Protocol? Frederic St. Laurent Managing Director, Wealth/Leasing/Specialty Finance 404-855-3310 fred@4FRS.com

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