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Merrill Lynch Headcount, Assets Flat in Q2

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Bank of America’s global wealth and investment management group, which includes Merrill Lynch and U.S. Trust, reported net income of $543 million in the second quarter, up from $513 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenues for the second quarter totaled $4.3 billion, down from $4.5 billion in 2011.

Merrill Lynch revenues slipped to $3.6 billion from $3.8 billion a year ago, while client balances for the Merrill brokerage business were flat at $1.8 trillion. Assets under management rose to $682 million, up 3 percent on the year. Net new assets under management totaled $4.0 billion for the quarter, with strong “long-term” fee-based assets flows offset by a narrow drop in short-term trading asset flows. In the second quarter of last year, net asset flows came to just $764 million.  

Merrill’s thundering herd of financial advisors added 22 new bodies, bringing total headcount up to 17,543, but annualized revenues per advisor shrank to $915,000 from $965,000 in the year-ago quarter.

Bank of America is expecting to finish its second phase of cost-cutting, BAC 2, which includes the wealth management business, by the end of 2015, with total savings of $3 billion over that time. On a conference call Wednesday morning, executives said they expect a third of the cost-savings program to be implemented each year.

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