Starting in August, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAC) said, its advisor trainees would have the option of joining a team as a specialist and finishing the training program in about two and a half years, versus the traditional three and a half years.
The aim is to support advisors with succession planning and build “the bridges necessary for the next generation of advisors to continue to deliver the experience our clients expect and deserve,” according to a memo shared with advisors.
The trainees could choose to focus on business development, financial planning, investments and financing, relationship management or business management.
How would this affect the Thundering Herd of 13,845 reps?
“It looks like a move to facilitate the growth of teams, which many firms feel enables advisors to provide a better client experience and makes advisors less likely to move,” said Mark Elzweig, an executive search consultant, in an interview. “The downside for advisors is that whenever multiple in-house specialists regularly touch client accounts, clients can be harder to move.”
In other words, Merrill’s new push to have trainees join teams as specialists adds to the “stickiness” of both clients and advisors, who may be exposed to a growing array of Bank of America products and services, but will have a harder time jumping ship.