| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 24 Bank of America Corp (BAC.N)
reached out to Merrill Lynch's MER.N 15,500 financial
advisers, offering retention packages to the group which the
bank has described as Merrill's "crown jewel".
The top producing advisers bringing in $1.75 million and up
in fees and commissions will receive a loan up front equivalent
to those fees and commissions and the company will pay down the
loan for them over a seven-year period, said a source at
Merrill Lynch familiar with the offer.
Top executives of Bank of America and Merrill confirmed in
statements that the offers had been made, although not the
"It is important for clients, shareholders and the future
of the combined company to retain top-performing advisers at
the two current firms," said Robert McCann, vice chairman and
president, Global Wealth Management at Merrill Lynch and the
man selected to head the combined companies' brokerage
"This transition award, which is fully realized over
multiple years, will help ensure that clients receive
thoughtful advice, guidance and world-class service from the
financial advisers they have chosen and trust."
Those advisers who bring in $1 million to $1.75 million
will be loaned 75 percent of that amount up front, with the
debt to be extinguished over seven years. They also will
receive a loan equivalent to a quarter of their fees and
commissions which the bank will pay off over three years only
if they meet certain growth targets.
Advisers who bring in $750,000 to $999,000 will be offered
a 50 percent 7-year loan and the same 25 percent three-year
loan based on growth targets, with the size of the upfront loan
decreasing further for those managing between $500,000 and
$749,000 and still further for those who deliver below
$500,000, the source said.
One Merrill adviser who asked not to be identified said the
offer could go a long way toward calming worries among the
investment bank's brokerage that could have seen a defection of
"We are busy working with our clients," the adviser said.
"The top end guys we all feel will stay put, but lower end
producers may not be thrilled. Are they going to go
independent? I doubt it."
But others were more skeptical about what kind of reception
the offers would get.
"These offers aren't going over well at all," said Howard
Diamond, CEO of Diamond Consultants, a New Jersey based
financial services recruiter. "There is a message with the
"Eighty percent of the Merrill guys we are speaking with
are very unhappy with the offer -- especially the guys just
under a million in production," he said.
Offers to the international Merrill Lynch advisers have not
been finalized, a spokeswoman said.
(Editing by Carol Bishopric)