Is Merrill Lynch Crazy for Raising Client Minimums after the Lost Decade?

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A reader writes: So, let me get this straight- [Merrill] only want(s) your advisors to go after clients with 2 and a half times more money than they had 12 years ago, but over that 12 year period, the stock market- where their money was- has stayed flat?

It amazes me how our readers respond to articles. Sometimes you hear nothing, sometimes you hear a chorus. And sometimes someone responds in our comment section about an article published a decade ago!

If you don't already know about our comment section for each article, you might want to think about putting it to good use. Readers are allowed to post anonymously --- provided editors such as myself approve these comment to to ensure they aren't vulgar or libelous.

Take, for example, this post below responding to an article posted in 2000 about how Merrill raised its client minimum to $100,000.  The reader writes:

"You know what's so great about this...this article was written Dec 1st 2000. The S&P was at 1315 on Dec 1st 2000. So Merrill raises their new account minimums to 100 grand- no biggie, all your clients made money in the stock market over the last decade or so!! Change your account minimums to $100k, who cares? Hey, what's this? January of 2012, Merrill Lynch raises their new account minimums AGAIN... this time to 250 thousand dollars! Wow- seems ambitious to me, Merrill! Well- let's take a look; it's been twelve years since you raised your account minimums...which SEEMS like a long time...Ok. So who are your customers? Oh- it's mainly people who have money invested in the stock market.. Well, that's probably ok, too- let's just check to see what the S&P closed at, 12 years later... Oh wait- the S&P closed today, May 30, 2012, at 1313. Huh! Two points lower than that article in Dec of 2000... So, let me get this straight- you only want your advisors to go after clients with 2 and a half times more money than they had 12 years ago, but over that 12 year period, the stock market- where their money was- has stayed flat? MAKES TOTAL SENSE, JERKS!"

Calling Merrill management a bunch of jerks is something I don't condone, but I'll let it ride this time. Besides, which FA among you does NOT want HNW clients? Who among you can actually make money catering to small savers? After all, Merrill is not alone in trying to push small clients to call centers.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jun 5, 2012

Markets do not only consist of the S&P. The fixed income environment has been a great place to not only capture yield, but also capture capital appreciation. You made a great case for the Investment Advisor. As volatility is the name of the game, it takes an advisor to navigate the turbulent waters.
Alternative investments is another angle ML Advisors use to protect their clients. The minimum balance increase is due to the fact Merrill is helping their clients increase their net worth. The very fact Merrill can increase their client minimums within this environment proves the value of the ML Advisor.
The S&P is not all there is to money management.

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REP. Editor-in-Chief David Aldo Geracioti on the business of Wall Street from a free-market perspective.

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Is the editor-in-chief of REP. magazine.  He is also a devotee of the Austrian School of Economics leading lights Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich von Hayek, Murry Rothbard and to other thinkers in...
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