Bank Watch roundup: Merrill makes it tougher to be an elite broker

MERRILL MAKES IT DOUBLY TOUGH TO BE ELITE: The Bank of America subsidiary has increased the goals a broker must meet to be a top performer, Reuters reports. Before, you had to bring in $4 million from clients to be in the "Circle of Champions." Now, it's $8 million to be in the "Pinnacle Club." Membership gets you $10,000 and bragging rights.

EVERYBODY LOVES SCBT: First Financial Holdings, aka SCBT/NCBT and soon to be South State Bank, is the top rated bank stock in the country with buy recommendations from 100 percent of analysts who cover it, according to a report from SNL Financial. Sure, it's only seven analysts (compared with 34 for JPMorgan Chase). Neither Bank of America nor Wells Fargo made the top-rated list, meaning less than 50 percent of analysts had a buy recommendation on their stocks.

BANK OF AMERICA IS GOOD FOR COLLEGE STUDENTS: So says a new survey from, which put the Charlotte bank atop its list of good banks for the newly matriculating. The site cites the ability for students 23 or younger to have some checking account fees waived.

SUNTRUST BEATS EXPECTATIONS: Net income was up 15 percent to $405 million, Bloomberg reports.

BANKS STILL DON'T WANT TO TRY POT: Even after federal regulators assured banks that they wouldn't get in trouble for taking on legal marijuana businesses as clients, the fledgling pot firms still can't open up checking accounts most places, the Wall Street Journal reports.

WHY CITIGROUP IS 'RUNNING AND HIDING': Just months after the New York bank was the only one of its peers not allowed to increase its dividend, Citigroup will hold its annual meeting a thousand miles away from its home, in St. Louis. CLSA analyst says that gives the impression the bank is running and hiding, Buzzfeed reports. Of course, Citi isn't the only bank that's taken its annual meetings on the road lately. San Francisco-based Wells Fargo held its get-together in Salt Lake City last year, and it'll be in San Antonio this year.