From the February 2009 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

February 1, 2009

Bob McCann Bids Merrill Adieu

Robert McCann has left his post as head of Merrill Lynch's wealth-managment unit.

Robert McCann has left his post as head of Merrill Lynch's wealth-management division now that its merger with Bank of America has been completed.

McCann, 50, had been with the firm for more than 25 years and recently led its 16,850-member brokerage force as vice chairman and president of global wealth management. But, according to several news reports, the merger meant that his responsibilities were being narrowed under the direction of Bank of America executives.

Overall, advisors had been highly supportive of McCann's leadership. Still, some advisors felt overlooked by a recent retention-bonus plan introduced as part of the BofA deal, which generally favored large producers.

McCann is being succeeded by a top deputy and Merrill veteran, Dan Sontag.

Unlike another former top Merrill executive, Greg Fleming -- who has recently left the company as well after serving as its chief operating officer and head of investment banking, McCann had not moved up a notch in the management structure after the merger with BofA. This and supposed tensions with Merrill chief John Thain -- now in charge of global banking, securities and wealth management for BofA -- appear to have contributed to his departure, according to various news sources.

Overall, these executive departures are not a good sign for Merrill, say experts like Chip Roame, head of Tiburon Strategic Advisors. "McCann's exit alone could have been devastating to the firm's retention efforts. But it is offset by the fact that the firm just put their top producers under contracts (negotiated by McCann), and they replaced him quickly with his deputy, Dan Sontag."

"They need the waters to calm," Roame adds, which the selection of Sontag may help the firm do.

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