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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.