BAML! Thiel shakes things up at BofA Merrill Lynch

New boss looks to streamline regions, offer more support to advisers; Franks retiring

Sep 22, 2011 @ 11:49 am

By Darla Mercado

Bank of America Corp. has restructured the firm's wealth management and private banking groups in a bid to bring the firm's Merrill Lynch leadership closer to the advisers.

In an internal memo sent by John Thiel, boss of the company's U.S. wealth management, private banking and investments group spelled out a “market-driven, client-driven and streamlined” arrangement for the firm.

The revamped approach comes just two weeks after Bank of America ousted Sally Krawcheck, Mr. Thiel's former boss, in an executive shakeup.

The new game plan, according to Mr. Thiel, is to create tailored strategies to serve affluent, ultrahigh-net worth and institutional clients, as well as to reduce management layers to help get BAML's leaders closer to advisers for support.

Given BofA's's recent troubles, those advisers are more important than ever. In the first six months of the year, the global wealth management group generated about 20% of the bank's total revenue.

As part of Mr. Thiel's game plan, the wealth management and private banking business will be split into 11 geographic markets, each to be led by a market executive who will report directly to Mr. Thiel. Those regions and their market executives are Brett Bernard, Mid East; Chris Dupuy, Pacific Northwest; Linda Houston, New England; Paul Lambert, Mid-America; Bill Lorenz, Mid-Atlantic; Jeff Markham, Greater Texas; Sabina McCarthy, New York Metro Area; Don Plaus, South Atlantic; Jeff Ransdell, Southeast; Jodi Rolland, Heartland; and Chandler Root, Southwest.

Riley Etheridge, now the private banking and investment group's region executive for the metropolitan and mid Atlantic, will be the head of client solutions and segments, reporting to Mr. Thiel.

Mr. Etheridge, in the newly created post, will lead a team focusing on strategies to push for adviser growth and new clients. That team will include Bill Cholawa, head of capacity and initiative management; Ted Durkin, head of affluent client solutions; Scott Hotham, head of institutional client solutions; and Phil Sieg, head of ultrahigh-net-worth client solutions.

Mr. Thiel's management team has been expanded to include Mr. Etheridge, the 11 market executives, Tom Fickinger, who is head of adviser growth and development, and chief operating officer Todd Myers.

Greg Franks, who had been the director of wealth management's western division, will retire as part of the rejiggering, according to the memo.

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