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In what looks to be a weak and feeble attempt to cover up the industry’s worst recruiting and retention record over the past few years, an unidentified Merrill exec claimed that the firm is jumping back into recruiting. That claim was then quickly followed by a statement that they never stopped recruiting – and then everyone laughed.

The quote that made the rounds in the media late last week intimated that Merrill would be making a ‘few hires’ this quarter and the next. The source attempted to make the giant leap that a ‘few hires’ in the next two quarters would signal that Merrill was the clear choice for advisors who serve HNW and UHNW clients.

Why did this source feel compelled to make such asinine claims? Merrill has been getting their teeth kicked in on the recruiting trail for the last five years. We did a little research, and check this out, 7 out of every 10 teams that have moved in the past 5 years that claim annual revenue better than $3M have left BofA/Merrill and went to a new firm.

Nobody believes that Merrill is about to score a bunch of noteworthy teams from rivals UBS, Morgan Stanley, or Wells Fargo (okay maybe Wells but that’s an article for another day). Any large team associated with a move and Merrill Lynch has been an exit, plain and simple. In 2018-2019, Stifel absolutely feasted on Merrill teams. Now, Rockefeller is doing the same, along with First Republic and indie firms.

All this amounts to is a misdirection play to take the industry’s eyes off the fact that Merrill’s real attrition rate with legacy advisors (not new bank hires and Merrill Edge) is closer to 10% rather than 3%. Give me a break. The smoke and mirrors are lame and nobody believes this ‘anonymous’ executive.

Our best guess is this – Merrill will probably announce a big private bank hire or two in the next couple of months. J.P. Morgan?? Maybe. Or possibly Goldman Sachs. That will serve as cover for this leak claiming that they are back in the recruiting game. **In fact that’s the only ‘team’ hire Merrill has made this year that we can find; a JPM PB hire in Texas.

Any team worth a damn in the industry wouldn’t dare go to BofA/Merrill. Why sign on to a small division of a bank that sees you as nothing more than a distribution center for loans and trust products?

Merrill would’ve done well to simply keeps its mouth shut. Now, we will be watching for their recruiting to come roaring back **rolls eyes**.

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