Many of the Merrill Lynch full-service brokers who helped kick-start Bank of America’s Merrill Edge service five years ago are not getting the amount of referrals they had hoped for from the online discount brokerage, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Merrill Lynch advisers were pushed to hand over to Merrill Edge those customers who had accounts that held less than $250,000 in assets, according to the Journal story. Charlotte-based Bank of America wanted Merrill Lynch brokers to instead focus on finding and working with wealthier clients.
Account transfers from Merrill Lynch advisers are responsible for roughly one-third of $118 billion in client assets Merrill Edge has amassed so far, according to its head, Aron Levine, the Journal reports.
“That has Bank of America pleased, but Merrill Lynch brokers expected that, as Merrill Edge’s business grew, it would open up a two-way street: They would start to get more referrals of customers with more than $250,000 to manage,” the story says.
But several advisers say referrals have been sparse.
“There are a number of Merrill Edge clients that have way more than $250,000 and aren’t coming back to me,” said one Merrill Lynch branch manager who is based on the East Coast and is quoted in the story.
Bank of America did not immediately provide comment. But in the Journal story, Levine is quoted as saying the issue of business referrals is “always a challenge.”
The lender acquired Merrill Lynch in 2009.