Relying on trainees, Merrill Lynch boosts adviser headcount in 2017

Questions remain about long-term effectiveness of wirehouse's move away from recruiting experienced brokers

Jan 17, 2018 @ 1:53 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Despite cutting back on recruiting experienced financial advisers, Merrill Lynch increased its adviser headcount by 2% in 2017, adding 333 people for a total of 14,953 at the end of last year, according to Merrill's parent company, Bank of America, which released its fourth quarter earnings Wednesday.

Last May, Merrill Lynch, along with rival Morgan Stanley, said it was reducing its reliance on recruiting experienced advisers and putting renewed focus on training younger advisers and building staff.

Merrill Lynch continues to emphasize training new advisers, with selective hiring of veterans, industry observers noted. One recruiter asked, while such a strategy may boost the number of advisers in the short term, will those young advisers be able to increase revenues substantially in the years ahead?

"Those numbers validate what Merrill's goal was, to de-emphasize experienced adviser recruiting and emphasize training," said Louis Diamond, vice president and senior consultant at Diamond Consultants, an industry recruiter. "It's putting young and new advisers in bank branches. That's the strategy Merrill and Bank of America have committed to. It's working, but still tough to say how effective it will be long-term."

"I'll be curious to see in a year or two how successful those people are," Mr. Diamond said. "Will they still need to recruit experienced advisers with large books of business?"

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management reported fourth quarter total revenue of $3.8 billion, an increase of $236 million, or 6.5%, when compared to the same quarter a year earlier. The increase was driven by higher asset management fees and net interest income, and partially offset by lower transactional revenue, the company said.

Merrill Lynch reported revenue of $15.3 billion for 2017, up from $14.5 billion in 2016.


What do you think?

View comments

Recommended for you

Sponsored financial news

Featured video


Diversity & Inclusion Awards: 2018 nominations are open

Editor Fred Gabriel and special projects editor Liz Skinner discuss the nomination process for InvestmentNews' inaugural Diversity & Inclusion awards.

Latest news & opinion

Cetera reportedly exploring $1.5 billion sale

The company confirmed it's talking to investment bankers to 'explore how to best optimize [its] capital structure at lower costs.'

SEC Chairman Jay Clayton outlines goals for a new fiduciary standard

Rule should provide clarity on role of adviser, enhanced investor protection and regulatory coordination.

Advisers bemoan LPL's technology platform change

Those in a private LinkedIn chat room were sounding off about fears the independent broker-dealer will require a move to ClientWorks before it is fully ready.

Speculation mounts on whether others will follow UBS' latest move to prevent brokers from leaving

UBS brokers must sign a 12-month non-solicit agreement if they want their 2017 bonuses.

Maryland jumps into fiduciary fray with legislation requiring brokers to act in best interests of clients

Legislation requires brokers to act in the best interests of clients.


Hi! Glad you're here and we hope you like all the great work we do here at InvestmentNews. But what we do is expensive and is funded in part by our sponsors. So won't you show our sponsors a little love by whitelisting It'll help us continue to serve you.

Yes, show me how to whitelist

Ad blocker detected. Please whitelist us or give premium a try.


Subscribe and Save 60%

Premium Access
Print + Digital

Learn more
Subscribe to Print