Merrill Exec Expects New, Shorter Advisor Program to Quadruple Success Rate

For example, Merrill has mentioned that in Florida, “given what’s been happening in terms of the migration of wealth and creation of wealth … there’s a possibility there that we may look to add some teams inorganically — but that’s very limited and very marginal against the backdrop of a 20,000-advisor business,” he said.

Sieg also pointed out that, when Bank of America acquired Merrill in 2009, there were only 14 advisors at the firm who produced more than $5 million of annual commissions. That has grown to 185 today, he said. Therefore, “by any analysis, this is a powerful platform to serve clients and to build advisory businesses, and that’s a key part of this growth story,” he told viewers.

Merrill continues to expect there will be only “low, single-digit, percentage increases annually in advisor count,” he said.

Private Bank’s Advisor Strategy

In the company’s Bank of America Private Bank business, meanwhile, the strategy for advisor growth is similar, according to Katy Knox, president of BofA Private Bank.

“We’ve learned a lot over the last five years,” she said. “We’ve hired 150 advisors in the Private Bank and really what the data has shown us is exactly what Andy said: the internal hires have been really successful.”

The division’s “focus has been on our younger professionals and making sure they have the training in role development, and then overall advisor development,” she said, adding: “We’ll stay on track,” growing its current 500 advisors to 525.

The firm has “extremely strong growth prospects, not just over the quarters ahead but over the decade ahead.”

More Tech Investments Planned

“2020 was a tough year” but “the 2020s, we believe, will be a phenomenal decade for wealth management,” Sieg also said Monday. After all, “levels of wealth in the U.S. and around the world are projected to increase dramatically,” he said.

“Uncertainty is out there and so we have some conviction that clients need our help, particularly high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients, and together this really equates to a bull market for advice that we think we’re well-positioned for,” he explained.

Meanwhile, “from a digital perspective, the investments that Bank of America has been making in technology and specifically behind our wealth management business have paid off enormously,” he said. “The business has moved forward, we like to say, probably five years in terms of our progress and client uptake of our digital platforms — but we’re not letting up. The investments are going to continue.”

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