Merrill Lynch, the firm that used to set the entire narrative for the wealth management industry, isn’t even a skeleton of its former self. It has become a zombie. The walking dead. An easy-to-kill, slow-footed organization that doesn’t have a meaningful reason to continue to exist. Zombie.
Overly harsh one might ask?? No, it isn’t. In fact, Merrill Lynch isn’t even called Merrill Lynch anymore. Bank of America thought it was a great idea to rebrand as just ‘Merrill’ – you know, the name of Mel Gibson’s brother in the movie Signs. Yep, that guy can now accurately be equated with the Merrill brand. Washed up.
In just the 8 weeks since the turn of the calendar, the continued acceleration of Merrill teams has migrated to Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Rockefeller. Does anyone want to guess how many recruits Merrill (a division of Bank of America) has signed up in that time? How many have been announced? Nada. Zilch. Zero.
Merrill Lynch teams are increasingly easy to poach as the pervading attitude is “there really is no reason for me to stick around anymore.” Management turnover, culture destruction, colleagues have bounced – if you are a big team or advisor still at the firm you either hate change as much as I hate asparagus, or you simply aren’t marketable. It’s one or the other.
In a scene from The Walking Dead, rival firms have a massive cache of weapons, and Merrill advisors keep slowly walking in the same direction. Easy targets. “Swing away Merrill, swing away…”