Bank of America Changes Trainee Contracts – Forces Them To Sign Or Be Fired

If you have decided to go work for Merrill Lynch, under the ownership of Bank of America, in the past 3-5 years – make no mistake, you are a banker. Make no mistake.

Read this quote from Andy Seig a bit ago and tell us if you disagree:

“We’re uniquely positioned to identify future advisor talent while they’re still, in many cases, working in other lines of business, particularly within our consumer bank, in our Edge business, where they’re already licensed to do securities business and are advising clients and then have an aspiration, over time, to become advisors in the Private Bank or at Merrill.” Sieg made these comments on June 14 during an online Morgan Stanley Financials, Payments & Commercial Real Estate Conference.

Notice that the ‘Merrill’ inclusion is at the end of a long line of banking positions. A new Merrill trainee now has to navigate a maze of banking roles to ever find their way to the actual desk of a Merrill advisor as most of you reading this understand.

But wait, there’s more…

When presented with new agreements associated with new roles and career paths, trainees were given an ultimatum: sign it or your services are no longer needed and you’re fired (and here’s a little severance so you’re not actually fired). And then Merrill was ecstatic that 96% of those in the program signed it.

Take a minute to re-read that last sentence because it’s a big deal. BofA signaled their ability to lock in trainees as bankers and remove ALL OF THEM from any participation in the broker protocol.

If you think that Merrill remains in the broker protocol you’re fooling yourself. It’s the same as believing that Merrill still has nearly 20k advisors at the firm. Neither of those things are true. Fully half of Merrill’s banker brokers are now under non-solicit agreements and ineligible for inclusion in the broker protocol.

The entirety of this article can be summed up this way – BofA/Merrill continues to look more and more like J. P. Morgan and less and less like Morgan Stanley

PUPPET MASTERS – Bank Of America Stiffs Field Management On Year End Bonuses; Not Profitable Enough During The Pandemic

If you thought that Bank of America couldn’t do any worse in screwing up a once proud brand like Merrill Lynch, you were wrong. Last week they proved that the puppet masters pulling the ‘Merrill A Division Of Bank Of America’ strings aren’t finished killing off a once proud brand.

You really can’t make this stuff up. In a year that saw the current office-based wealth management business model get completely turned upside down, BofA thought it was a great idea to punish branch managers and other field management by cutting bonuses 30-60%. Those affected simply didn’t do a good enough job growing assets and selling enough bank products.

Seriously, why does anyone still work there?

A little reminder that Merrill basically isn’t allowed to recruit anymore. So managers are severely hampered on the NNA front; effectively at the mercy of the markets. Their best teams (read: with the biggest books and AUM) have been leaving in droves, so bonus cuts based on reduced asset growth during a pandemic while not being allowed to recruit – ludicrous, if not downright cruel. Again, puppet masters.

This is the reality for the ‘bonus pool’ for Merrill’s nearly 100 market leaders/managers. Pay (forget calling it a bonus, it’s PAY) was cut by 30% from 2019. That is 570 branch offices across the country who count on 50-75% of their total comp through bonuses. Good thing those government stimmy checks went out last month. :(

Even worse, some Market managers in the bottom third of performers got hammered with up to 60% reductions in expected bonuses. And one last kick in the crotch… a cut of this size has never occurred at Merrill. Never.

So to recap: your a Merrill manager of some sort, you can’t recruit, you are losing big teams every month, your name is no longer Merrill Lynch, your pitching bank products, during a pandemic, while working from your den or basement – and the bank you work for decided “hey it’s not good enough so here’s an unprecedented cut in your annual compensation.”

Does anyone check Andy Seig’s bonus payout??

Merrill Lynch Shuffles Deck Chairs In NYC; Names New Market Head But Eliminates Another Complex

Merrill Lynch keeps shrinking. Across the US ‘real’ advisor headcount (not BofA bank branch advisors and Merrill EDGE hires) has been in decline since 2010, a decades-long run, and regions, complexes, and markets have shrunk as well. Another example of this was just announced in the financial capital of the world – New York City.

In a memo sent to advisors and staff a former UBS manager was named as the new ‘market executive’ in the firms Rockefeller Center branch; a branch known to be a bellwether for the BofA/Merrill brand. Mr. Correa was hired last year away from UBS. Mr. Correa transfers over from Merrill’s Park Ave branch and replaces the interim market executive Courtney McCarthy. The moves were announced by the Fifth Ave complex manager Matthew Grossman.

Also discussed in the memo from Mr. Grossman, besides the announcement of Mr. Correa’s arrival, was the shuttering of the Manhattan East complex that Mr. Correa had just left. That complex would be merged with the Fifth Ave complex and be redubbed Manhattan Central. Is anyone else’s head spinning??

The upshot is that Merrill Lynch is consolidating complexes, reducing manager headcount, and dealing with large-scale departures in locations that used to be the envy of every wealth management brand in the world. Now, it is nothing more than the shuffling of deck chairs to satisfy the bean counters at Bank of America. Profitability, costs, associated bank product sales, loans, and household quotas matter more than the brand and the people that work within it. Another adjustment to a flagship complex (shutting it down completely) is just more proof of that.

So to recap, the Rock Center complex was shut down, merged with Manhattan East, named Ken Correa the new ‘market executive’, but is managed by Matthew Grossman, while the former interim ‘market executive’ Courtney McCarthy is demoted to Associate Market Manager. Got it? Good.