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Merrill Lynch Gives Its Brand a New Spin

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Merrill Lynch has rolled out a new marketing campaign aimed at both potential advisors and clients. The theme of the new campaign — “The Power of the Right Advisor” — was based on discussions with clients, prospects and financial advisors, according to the company, and it will be featured in several print publications, a number of online publications and websites, Bank of America ATMs, several baseball stadiums nationwide and also on digital screens in lobbies this year.

The focus on prospective advisors includes both FAs working at rival firms and professionals in other careers looking to work as advisors, according to Joan Khoury, head of marketing for Merrill Lynch. “As we go to market … we want to focus on advisors and their relationships with clients, but we also want to help increase our ranks,” Khoury tells Research.

“We are focusing our marketplace messaging on two groups — competitive recruits, advisors who for one reason or another look at Merrill Lynch as the place to be … and those that are career changers,” Khoury adds. “We are looking for those who are high-performers in their chosen fields but who want to make advising their second careers.”

Merrill had exactly 15,498 registered reps at the end of Q4 2010. This shift represents an increase of 327 advisors over the fourth quarter of 2009 and 22 more than in the third quarter of 2010. Assets under management at Merrill stand at $1.58 trillion at the end of 2010, up from $1.48 trillion a year earlier.
“We have a legendary training approach to help make career-changers successful,” Khoury explains. “We have invested a tremendous amount of energy and effort to ensure that the training will continue and play a role in acquiring new advisors.”

The new marketing push also will be used on LinkedIn and Twitter, for instance, she says, “to place the ads where the prospects and potential advisors will be.” After the downturn, “We wanted to grasp the shift in the market for advisors and clients,” Khoury says, and Merrill’s new marketing or branding effort aims to reflect that transition.