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BofA Elevates Merrill Lynch, U.S. Trust Execs

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Bank of America says the heads of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Andy Sieg, and U.S. Trust-BofA Private Wealth Management, Katy Knox, are now part of the full bank’s management team and report directly to CEO Brian Moynihan.

“These realignments and additions to the management team reflect that operating model and position us well to continue to drive responsible growth and address strategic opportunities ahead,” according to Moynihan.

The news comes about six weeks after the death of Terry Laughlin, who led BofA’s two Global Wealth and Investment Management businesses. Laughlin previously served as the bank’s chief risk officer and was the head of its Legacy Asset Servicing group.

Recent Results

In the third quarter, Bank of America beat estimates, reporting a 32% year-over-year jump in net income to about $7.2 billion, or $0.62 per share, as revenue improved 4% to almost $23 billion.

The Global Wealth and Investment Management unit — has revenue of roughly $4.8 billion, with Merrill Lynch accounting for $3.9 billion of total sales. GWIM’s pretax margin was 28%, and net income increased 31% from a year ago to $1.01 billion.

Client balances for the full unit were $2.8 trillion as of Sept. 30, a 6% jump from a year ago. Average loan balances grew 5% year over year to $162 billion, thanks to residential mortgages and custom lending.

The number of Merrill Lynch advisors was 14,838, up 18 from the prior quarter but down 116 from the prior year, which the firm says is “a result of a continued focus on bringing the highest quality candidates into our training program — more so than on volume.”

Average annual fees and commissions for veteran advisors are $1.35 million, while for all advisors this figure is $1.04 million.

Earlier this week, Janney Montgomery Scott said it recruited a team of two Merrill advisors and two associates in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with about $200 million in client assets. It includes advisors Ronald Holmes and Whitney Riley, both of whom were with Merrill for the past 10 years.

More Developments

On Oct. 1, Merrill reversed course on its move to end commissions in retirement accounts, two years after this shift was made. It also shared plans to provide more straightforward information to brokerage clients about fees and commissions, including a summary of programs and services and the associated costs.

“In response to client feedback, we’re announcing steps today that will provide our clients with greater choice and flexibility, while maintaining our support for a best-interest standard for investment advice across all accounts,” according to Sieg.


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