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If you want further proof that Merrill Lynch (actually it’s just Merrill now) has fully morphed into a bank brokerage we’ve got it for you. They aren’t even trying to hide it anymore.

Merrill announced last week that they are moving all client data away from their internal system ‘O Drive’ and over to Salesforce. Some would think that this is nothing more than a tech adjustment/migration and not really a big deal. That’s simply not the case.

Merrill has led the industry in advisor departures for half a decade now. Five years in a row. One could wonder who’s even left, and why are they still there. But for those that remain this tech move means the noose is tightening.

Migration to Salesforce means three specific things, all in BofA/Merrill’s favor:

1. Salesforce provides significantly more ‘big brother’ control to lock out advisors and instantly eliminate access to client data.

2. Salesforce makes it much easier to transfer client data to other advisors when a team leaves for another firm.

3. Salesforce can prevent data exports and downloads of any kind. The information is locked.

So BofA thinks that locking your client data and technically seizing up your computer the moment you leave, will keep you from leaving. Okay.

But that’s not all. In another announcement last week Merrill confirmed ‘client retention teams’ to be deployed when a team leaves the firm. But everyone reading this knows what it really is – a group of staffers searching for potential protocol violations that would be the basis for legal action.

So five years hence, BofA/Merrill has decided that the right way to handle hemorrhages like attrition and a crumbling culture with an updated CRM and client service calls. This is the kind of genius sort of thinking that can be found at legacy banks these days.

Great plan there guys, great plan. If you remain at Merrill for some reason, we can’t figure out why. The options available to you are wildly more accretive to your clients and to your team. Get out of there.

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