The headline might seem obvious, but the day to day walking out of Merrill Lynch as an ancillary division of Bank of America gets uglier every week. This past week it was the revelation that Merrill Edge advisors will no longer sit in call centers, but rather in the same branches as the once venerable members of the ‘thundering herd’. Ouch.
“About 300 Edge advisors were placed into Merrill branches this year to work with less affluent clients and facilitate referrals of clients with more sophisticated needs. The number should rise to about 2,000 within three to four years, said Aron Levine, head of consumer banking and investments at Bank of America.”
“Those guys have been very effective so far,” Levine said of the Edge employees, who are categorized as Bank of America rather than Merrill advisors and who are paid by salary rather than on production-based grid payouts. “The fact that an FA can have someone right there as opposed to a phone call away in a center…makes a big difference in comfort level and working together.”
“Merrill Lynch does not pay its wealth advisors on household accounts with less than $200,000 at the company and has used incentives and pay deductions to encourage referring those accounts to Edge. Similarly, Edge’s “financial solutions advisors,” who are generally based in bank branches and call centers, receive incentives to refer affluent clients in the other direction.”
Sooo… thousands of the ‘down market’ advisors who it had been previously promised would stay out of sight and out of mind, will now be cuddling up in offices down the aisle or across the way from you. I’m sure that does wonders for your confidence in BofA having your best interests in mind, right. No.