What You Need to Know
- The firm moved to end cold calling last summer after outreach-related violations.
- The trainees will use internal referrals and LinkedIn messages instead.
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management will no longer let its 3,000 advisor trainees make cold calls, according to a report in the The Wall Street Journal.
The wealth unit, owned by Bank of America, is set to announce a new training program Monday that prohibits this activity, people familiar with the matter told the paper. Instead, trainees will be asked to rely on internal referrals and LinkedIn messages.
The development follows Merrill’s move last summer to end cold calling in response to outreach-related violations, according to Business Insider, which obtained a copy of an internal memo written by Jennifer MacPhee, who later retired from her role as head of Merrill’s training program. (Both MacPhee and Merrill said her departure was unrelated to the violations.)
“We are leaning much more heavily on leads and referrals from the broader company,” said Merrill President Andy Sieg during a call with analysts in April. “There is also an opportunity to be much more modern in terms of the way we are reaching out to prospective clients.”
The trainees should get more referrals from the bank’s base of 66 million retail clients, people familiar with the matter told the Journal.
Before the pandemic, Merrill’s trainees were expected to contact at least 45 prospects a week, meet with six and have some $12 million in assets by the end of their training program, according to the report, which noted that some chose to buy lists of phone numbers to meet the requirements.