Merrill Lynch is a shell of its former self. Very few in the industry believe otherwise. As a division of Bank of America (a smaller profit center division at that) Merrill has seen most metrics trend decidedly south over the course of the last three years under Mr. Sieg’s direction.
Let’s do a little math. Over the past three years Merrill Lynch has either led the industry in the loss of client assets or placed second (only to Wells Fargo in 2018). And through 45 days of 2020 they have an enormous lead in the same category.
Tenured advisors continue to flee the firm in numbers previously unheard of in the industry. And not just ‘average’ advisors, but most departures ring the bell as some of the largest teams in their city and even their region.
So what to say of Mr. Sieg’s tenure other than it’s been a disaster? Sure, the amount of $1M and $5M dollar advisors is up across the firm – but has anyone been watching the markets?? If you did nothing other than watch the S&P and NASDAQ tick up for the past 4 years, you’d be able to claim higher productivity as well.
Losing assets has to be the metric that matters. Those assets are directly tied to clients, lending, and other investment banking products. When they walk the rest of Merrill, and by extension BofA, is less profitable than they could have been.
One of two dynamics are at work here at Merrill under Mr. Sieg’s leadership: either BofA gives nearly zero fucks about performance at his division, or he’s closer to being shown the door than most realize. You simply can’t preside over those terrible shrinking numbers year after year and make it out alive.
Count us as in the camp of he’s not going to last appreciably longer. At some point BofA leadership will pull the plug. A little closer look at the math? Under Sieg’s leadership over the past three years+, Merrill Lynch has lost $100B in client assets. Wow.