It's interesting to watch the lone wolf culture on Wall Street disappear.

Take the Merrill Lynch team of Linda Stirling and John Folsom (see “Million-Dollar Producers,” Page 55). Folsom, already a successful broker on his own, agreed to join forces with Stirling. Their business has taken off since. Our other top producers have also benefited from teamwork. The business is migrating into a profession, and teaming up like other professionals does make a lot of sense.

Break the Glass Ceiling, Please

Do women have an advantage in this business? They certainly are stronger with some of the skills brokers must have — including teamwork (see “The Female Advantage,” Page 76).

Let me add my own sexist comment on this: Corporations (including brokerage firms) should get more female execs. Too many hard-charging male CEOs create billion-dollar screw-ups when their huge egos get in the way of clear thinking.

Would women do better? By bringing more humility, empathy and consensus-building skills to the job, they couldn't do worse.

Progress in the TRO Battles

Utah securities regulators have begun an enforcement action against Salomon Smith Barney for refusing to process account transfers for clients whose SSB broker went to Prudential Securities (see “Salomon Smith Barney Faces Fine for Freezing Client Accounts,” Page 24).

Thank goodness the states are still doing some regulating. The NASDR's tepid response to account freezes has been to propose an interpretation to existing rules on timely transfer making it clear that firms cannot take steps to freeze accounts.

Redundant as it is, the proposal has received broad support. Commenters favor it by a score of 60-9-12 (see “NASD Gets Support for Ending Account Freezes,” Page 32).

The usual firm suspects (American Express, Schwab, Edward Jones) are in the minority. Merrill Lynch did not comment. Perhaps it doesn't need to since the Merrill principles of conduct eloquently cover the issue.

The client is the driving force behind what we do. … We respect the dignity of each individual, whether an employee, shareholder, client, or member of the general public. [We will] comply fully with the letter and spirit of the laws, rules and practices.

Best of luck,