Mentioned In This Article

John Thiel, who rose from the trenches at Merrill Lynch as a financial advisor in Tampa, Fla. to head the firm’s private banking group, will soon lead some 15,000 advisors in Merrill’s U.S. brokerage unit as well, his boss Sallie Krawcheck said in an internal memo today.

Thiel, 50, will replace Lyle LaMothe. LaMothe, also 50, said on March 4 that he would retire as head of Merrill Lynch U.S. Wealth Management. Thiel’s new position is effective May 1; he will run both the U.S. brokerage and the Private Banking and Investment Group unit, which he joined in 2000. He’ll continue to report to Krawcheck.

Krawcheck said Thiel was chosen after “an extensive internal and external search.

“John is one of our most accomplished senior managers and I know he will build on his successes to impact our wealth management business more broadly,” Krawcheck said in the memo. “I promised from the beginning of this process that we would be thoughtful in our selection of the next leader of Merrill Lynch—and I owe it to all of you and to our clients to make certain that we have the strongest people possible in our key leadership roles.”

Thiel joined Merrill Lynch as an advisor in 1989. Six years later he joined the Global Private Client Advisory Division leadership team and later served as regional director in both Oakbrook and Northbrook, Ill. He also opened Merrill’s private wealth management business in the Pacific West Region as the regional managing director, headquartered in San Francisco.

The Private Banking and Investment Group has more than $160 billion in assets. Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, which includes U.S. Wealth Management, the Private Banking and Investment Group, and Merrill Lynch International, has $1.5 trillion in assets.

LaMothe took over at U.S. Wealth Management in January 2008.

Merrill recently reported first quarter earnings, posting its strongest quarterly report since Bank of America took over in late 2008. Since the acquisition, Merrill has been busy implementing cross-selling initiatives.