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Merrill Revamps Wealth Management Leadership

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What You Need to Know

  • The unit named Lindsay Hans and Chandler Root as new division executives, according to Merrill President Andy Sieg.
  • COO Kirstin Hill will stay in her current role, as will Don Plaus, head of private-wealth management, and Susan Axelrod, the chief supervisory officer.

Bank of America Corp.’s wealth-management business is reworking its top ranks as leaders Bill Lorenz and Paul Lambert retire after three decades with the firm.

The company’s Merrill Lynch Wealth Management unit named Lindsay Hans and Chandler Root to division executives, a shift that will take effect after Lorenz and Lambert step down at the end of the year, according to Merrill President Andy Sieg.

“We are promoting top performers, leaders who will help us continue to drive our ‘Modern Merrill’ strategy forward,” Sieg said in an interview. “We have a deep bench of talent” with diverse perspectives, he said.

Merrill is adjusting its leadership as demand for advisers climbs and banks bolster businesses that serve affluent clients. UBS Group AG is starting a digital wealth manager in the U.S. and Citigroup Inc. is making a big push in the space, including plans to hire thousands of staffers in the Asia-Pacific region.

Lorenz, who started his career at Merrill in 1991, held various leadership roles across the business, including national sales manager. He currently oversees the Northeast division, one of the largest for the wealth-management firm.

Hans will take over Lorenz’s role as division executive for the Northeast. She’s currently a division executive for the Mid-Atlantic region, one of the highest-ranked divisions at the firm, Sieg said. The job will soon be taken over by Craig Young.

Kenneth Correa will take on Young’s current role as the national business-development executive with responsibilities including acquisition and management across Merrill. Correa served as a New York City market executive, including Merrill’s Rockefeller Center and Manhattan East markets.

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Lambert started at Merrill in 1992. He held roles including sales manager and resident director, and became president for Bank of America Chicago in 2016. The company named Rita Sola Cook as his replacement in that role, responsible for connecting banking and investment resources across the company and Chicago region.

Root will become division executive for the Midwest, which Lambert currently covers. He recently served as market executive for Charlotte, North Carolina, where Bank of America is based. Root, who joined Merrill in 1995, started his career as a financial adviser in Punta Gorda, Florida, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The rest of the Merrill leadership team will remain the same, including the executives of the other divisions:

  • Steve Alch, division executive for the Southeast
  • Jeff Markham, division executive for the West
  • Carole Wentz, division executive for Texas Mountain South
  • Eric Schimpf, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisory

Chief Operating Officer Kirstin Hill will also stay in her current role, as will Don Plaus, head of private-wealth management, and Susan Axelrod, the chief supervisory officer.

Merrill has around 105 market executives across the country. They report to the division executives, who report to Sieg. The wealth-management business set records last quarter as soaring equity markets made legions of Americans newly rich.

But challenges remain for the group. The firm has lost employees who’ve formed their own firms or joined competitors. And the ongoing pandemic stalled training for new talent, part of the reason Bank of America’s overall roster of wealth advisers slumped to 18,855 in the third quarter of this year, down 8% from a year earlier.

“As tough as 2020 was, we think the 2020s will be a phenomenal decade for wealth management,” Sieg said. “We want leaders in place who will be able to help us serve clients and step up to that opportunity in the years ahead.”

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