Saturday, October 25, 2008

Merrill's Retention Bonuses Come in Low

Looks like we will see a flood of Merril reps leaving. With competitors offering 200% of trailing 12 to change firms, how does BoA expect to keep assets...excuse me, the firm? Sure, they are loyal to Mother Merrill, but this deal, a reported 1x trailing 12 for a top producer is going to be a problem.

Sure, getting 1x trailing 12 to change firms is huge.....well, it was huge at one point in time. My firm has been working on deals in excess of 2x trailing 12. Certainly Merrill is, or was, a great firm, its brokers are, for the most part happy, and at least in my limited experience, and Merrill has, or had, a lot going for it.

But when BoA starts offering less than one times for a million dollar producer to stay at the firm, and others are offering him more than twice that to leave, there is going to be a defection.

The problem is, at least from my outside perspective, the same one that has existed ever since banks got into the brokerage business. Bankers are not brokers, and bankers just don't understand the brokerage business. This issue seems to be pretty straight forward, but maybe not.

Great quote from the article:

"What happens is that everybody who makes $499,000 to $1 million is now in play," says an advisor who generates $750,000 in production. "The message being sent is bankers versus brokers. Commercial bankers don't understand what advisors do. At other firms, a guy who makes $750,000 to $800,000 is valued by the firm."

Not so at Merrill, but other firms will value them.

Others are offering that producer TWO MILLION DOLLARS to leave Merrill.

Merrill Retention Is Adequate for Top Dogs, Scanty for Lower-Tier Producers"