Merrill Lynch, the nation’s largest brokerage firm, confirmed yesterday that the firm would be merging its U.S. and global private client operations. The firm also said that Kelly Martin, who has been head of the global private client unit, would resign and James Gorman, who until now was head of the U.S. private client group, will run the combined operations.

According to wire reports, Martin will remain with the company through the transition to combine the two groups, and will retire after that. He spent 21 years at Merrill. The U.S. business is significantly larger than the global business–as of the third quarter client assets in the U.S. totaled $1.01 trillion, whereas outside the United States, assets were less than a tenth of that, at $87 billion. U.S. assets experienced an inflow of $3 billion in net new money in the third quarter, compared with a $1 billion outflow in the third quarter for accounts based outside the U.S.

Gorman has been at Merrill Lynch since mid-1999, when he joined the company as chief marketing officer. He became head of the private client group in May 2000 and has since overseen a reduction in the firm’s financial advisors from 20,000 to the approximate 15,000 currently, as well as focusing strategically on a tiered system that emphasizes different levels of service for various different account sizes.