Despite reporting sizeable net losses for the fourth quarter and full-year 2007 due to write-downs associated with U.S. collateralized debt obligations, Merrill Lynch says its private-client group continues to churn on robust results. The retail brokerage operations now include 16,740 financial advisors, who are averaging more than $850,000 in annual sales or 12-month gross production.
On January 17, the broker-dealer reported:
- Global private client (GPC) net revenues for the fourth quarter of $3.3 billion, the second highest achieved in any quarter, up 10 percent from the prior-year period, reflecting increases across all revenue lines and the inclusion of First Republic revenues.
- GPC net revenues for the full year 2007 of $12.9 billion, up 14 percent year over year, with revenue growth across all lines. Fee-based revenues rose significantly, reflecting higher market values and strong flows into fee-based products.
- Turnover among FAs remained near historical lows, particularly among top-producing FAs. FA headcount reached 16,740 at quarter-end, an increase of 130 FAs for the quarter and 860 for the full year, reflecting the continuing trend of favorable net recruiting from competitors and hiring into training programs.
- Total net new money was $30 billion, the highest quarterly level in seven years. For the full year of 2007, net new money was $80 billion, the highest full-year level since 2000.