Merrill brokers pressured to also be bank tellers

About a week ago I read an article in the New York Post entitled “Merrill Flinch: Retail banking push meets broker resistance.” I’ve read similar articles in Registered Rep and so on. Anyone could have (and many did) predict that this and more would happen. This is one of many instances where completely opposite and conflicting corporate cultures are going to clash.

BofA is pressuring Merrill brokers to start pushing retail banking products. The big brouhaha in the news is that BofA is bypassing the Merrill Lynch brokers in offering savings and checking accounts by sending emails directly to Merrill clients touting such elementary financial products. They have even doubled the financial awards to the broker’s assistants for signing up clients as consumer banking customers.

Merrill Lynch’s once proud thundering herd (who once upon a time were used to wearing white gloves in high net worth client treatment) are now reduced to having their clients emailed (by their Bank of America parent) solicitations about opening simple savings and checking accounts.

Are Merrill brokers being pressured to be more like banking tellers? BofA is trying to bolster their deposit base and are going after Merrill Lynch clients (I mean BofA Merrill Lynch clients) to help accomplish this. But really, is this a surprise to anyone? BofA is the largest bank in the world and owns Merrill Lynch. It will be the BofA culture and products that will be pushed on Merrill Lynch brokers, not the other way around.

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