Merrill Lynch Bolsters Business Serving Richest Clients

Date : 03/13/2018 @ 8:47PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Bank of America Corp. (BAC)
Quote : 24.69  -0.74 (-2.91%) @ 6:39PM

Merrill Lynch Bolsters Business Serving Richest Clients

Bank of America (NYSE:BAC)
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By Lisa Beilfuss 

Merrill Lynch is beefing up its ultra-high-net-worth client group as the Wall Street brokerage works to pull in new assets and offer a wider range of wealth-management services.

The brokerage arm of Bank of America Corp. said it would consolidate its private banking, international and institutional groups to better serve its richest clients. Merrill said it also would create a new support team within the group, meant to provide specialized services for those clients, including generational wealth and family planning.

Don Plaus will remain at the helm of the ultra-high-net worth client group, known as the Private Banking & Investment Group. Mr. Plaus was named to the post last March as part of a broader restructuring after Merrill head Andy Sieg took over.

The changes come as Merrill Lynch and other Wall Street firms have been working to reinvent the traditional brokerage business.

Faced with chastened investors, stricter regulations and increased competition from cheap automated advisers and brokers-turned-independent advisers, traditional brokerages have been trying to turn into businesses that go beyond investment management. The aim is to become more profitable, while grabbing a bigger share of clients' assets and debt.

Advisory accounts typically generate fees of around 1% of a client's assets, a lucrative source of revenue that helped Bank of America's wealth arm notch record revenue of $18.6 billion last year.

As part of the Merrill revamp announced on Tuesday, Mr. Plaus named a new director for the Texas region and created a new Miami region.

Linda Patel, most recently an executive in Merrill's west-coast division, will become regional managing director for the Texas region, replacing Bob Johnson. Mr. Johnson is retiring, a spokeswoman said.

Andres De Corral will lead the new Florida region. He previously was an executive for Merrill's international group based in Miami, which is being consolidated in the new structure.

A person familiar with the latest shake-up said the moves wouldn't affect head count and weren't designed to cut costs. Rather, Merrill said in a memo that "changes were designed to bring together the firm's resources and expertise in serving the needs of wealthy investors, a key and expanding part of the firm's client base."


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 13, 2018 16:32 ET (20:32 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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