Merrill Lynch (BAC) has been pretty quiet about its new San Francisco complex director, former football player Willie Thomas who is now in charge of nearly 200 advisors in the Bay Area.
The limited publicity may be because Thomas played for the Seattle Seahawks, the current nemesis for the San Francisco 49ers and the team that handed the 49ers a 17-7 defeat on Sunday.
Still, with talk all over town about who may replace 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh (whose team has a 7-7 record so far this season), Thomas may be able to strike up some interesting conversations with lots of Merrill clients and prospects.
Sports figures can be attractive executives for wealth-management firms for a variety of reasons, says executive search consultant Mark Elzweig.
“People who were successful at professional sports are viewed by financial-service firms as hard-charging, super-motivated individuals who are also strong team players, and management is about leading a team,” said Elzweig in an interview.
Former pro-athletes also have “a certain cachet that can help them forge relationships with affluent investors,” he pointed out. Thanks to their fame and status, “people like to interact with them,” Elzweig explained.