Merrill Lynch Wealth's investment chief Shalett leaves

NEW YORK Mon Feb 4, 2013 7:27pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lisa Shalett, the chief investment officer for Merrill Lynch's retail brokerage force, left the company on Monday, the company said.

Shalett, one of the highest-ranking women at Merrill, was recruited to the Bank of America-owned brokerage giant in mid-2010 by Sallie Krawcheck, then head of global wealth management. Krawcheck was forced to resign from her post last September after disagreements with Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan.

Shalett "has decided to leave the firm to pursue other opportunities," Merrill wrote in a four-paragraph memo sent to the firm's approximately 15,000 advisers. The memo, signed by Andy Sieg, head of the firm's wealth and retirement solutions group, said she is being temporarily replaced by the chief investment office of the firm's private banking and investment group "to ensure a seamless client experience."

Though several banks have eliminated positions for investment strategists, a Merrill spokeswoman said that the firm is looking for a permanent replacement. The wealth management chief investment officer leads Merrill's investment analytics and due diligence teams as well as the "Ultra High Net Worth Investment Office" that creates customized portfolio solutions for very wealthy individuals.

A call to Shalett's number at Merrill was not returned. A Merrill spokeswoman said her departure was voluntary.

Shalett and Krawcheck worked together at Sanford C Bernstein, a brokerage and asset manager with a vaunted research area that Shalett joined in 1994. Each woman rose to become chairman and chief executive of the broker-dealer, overseeing research, sales and trading.

By the time Shalett was being recruited by her former colleague to join Bank of America, she had become partner and head of global growth equities at AllianceBernstein LLC, a money management affiliate of Bernstein.

In a trade magazine article for brokers published last May, Shalett said she became unhappy at Bernstein after her former boss, Lew Sanders, was fired and replaced by Peter Kraus, a veteran of Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. "Peter had a different vision about how the firm should serve clients and it did not resonate for me," she wrote.

An applied math and economics major at Brown University, Shalett also said that she was disgusted with the greed culture of Wall Street when she was studying for her M.B.A. at Harvard Business School during the junk bond trading scandals of the late 1980s.

"We didn't call it 'Occupy' at the time, but if the recent protests had taken place then, I probably would have been at the front of the line," she wrote. "I never saw myself on the Street."

(Reporting By Jed Horowitz; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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