Much has been speculated regarding the changing landscape at Merrill Lynch and its parent company, Bank Of America. While the culture has pivoted (as to be expected) there are a few things that the organization at large has gotten right and may lead it’s rivals on. Conversations with a couple internal sources as well as two separate ML focused recruiters allowed us to get a closer look at the future of Merrill Lynch and its functional relationship with Bank Of America. Here are three specifics related to positive changes:

 

  1. Merrill Edge: though there are some within the old guard that are certainly unhappy with this program it is anything but stale. With the ever growing issue of demographic  creep (to put it mildly) an issue in the industry at large, the fact that Merrill and BofA have decided to be proactive about the issue of both diversity and demographics is a net positive in the long run.
  2. Merrill One: this new platform, internally, has been met with significantly better  reviews that Morgan Stanley’s 3D. First and foremost, their decision to roll it out slowly is specific geographies was very smart. Any potential issues could be caught quickly and minimized, while controlling the PR portion of a new platform roll out. It has also been said that the issues that have plagued 3D were thankfully left out of Merrill One. Compliance nanny’s for one!
  3. A focus on wealth management: it is clear that over the past two years ML has been  a significant contributor to BofA’s bottom line. Even when considering the regulatory issues that the bank has faced - the focus on pure wealth management profits vs investment banking has allowed ML to be a consistent performer on BofA’s balance sheet.

 

While the organization still has issues that need to be addressed - principally, culturally and in the areas of recruiting and retention - there are some key segments where they are not only getting it right but are downright leading in their category. Bank of America would do well to treat their cash cow (thundering herd?) with kid gloves and allow them to “do what they do”.

 

Andrew Parish is the CEO and founder of AdvisorHUB and managing director of Axiom Consulting. Follow him @APadvisorhub