Unique: Merrill Rolls Out ‘Project Thunder’ Marketing campaign to Soothe Broker Qualms

August 25, 2021

(Current with added element from Sieg’s memo to brokers.)

Amid a rising number of departures by seasoned and higher-making brokers, Merrill Lynch Prosperity Administration is launching a two-thirty day period extended initiative to deal with frustrations and agony factors between the “thundering herd.” 

The campaign, dubbed Undertaking Thunder internally, is based mostly in element on broker comments and was rolled out to the profits drive on Wednesday as a result of a video and memo from Merrill Prosperity President Andy Sieg. It focuses on four broad pillars: building it much easier to do organization, products and platform enhancements, results and lifestyle, and promoting the Merrill brand, according to a statement from Sieg.

“Consistent with our heritage and lifestyle, Merrill is committed to listening to our advisors, customer associates and their teams,” Sieg stated in the statement. “Our aims are to continue to make it quick for all Merrill employees to do business, for our advisors and their groups to increase and realize achievements, and to produce for shoppers as a result of extraordinary service and abilities.”

The software is introducing 3 rather compact tweaks at first, and will involve a full of at the very least 24 improvements over the eight months, Sieg advised brokers in a memo. The first adjust, for illustration, allows some trainees to be part of groups immediately, and other updates will comply with weekly, in accordance to yet another “snapshot” despatched to advisors. 

“Designed by the industry, for the discipline to enhance your practical experience!” in accordance to the snapshot, which highlighted extra modifications to the “24 hour buying and selling rule” and inclusion of choice investments in a particular prosperity investigation device.

Brokers are also encouraged to deliver opinions in the course of the program through advisory councils to administration, department and marketplace leaders as nicely as peer networking groups, in accordance to a human being common with the make a difference. 

The marketing campaign is kicking off considerably less than two months just after Sieg acknowledged in an internal presentation that Merrill management was centered on competitive attrition, which ticked up to 5% from 4% in the next quarter. (Executives at rival wirehouse Morgan Stanley have touted an attrition fee less than 2%.) 

“[T]in this article will constantly be parts needing target from leadership. Suitable now, it is aggressive attrition–higher in this quarter than we’d like to see,” Sieg, who has led the Merrill Lynch prosperity device since 2017, reported in July. 

The departures have provided a range of lifetime-very long Merrill brokers, big private wealth teams concentrated on large-conclude shoppers and leading-ranked next-gen advisors who have received inside recognition for their account development. 

Bank of America’s overall advisor rely, together with a number of thousand bank-based mostly Edge advisors and private bankers in addition to the main Merrill pressure, was down 5.9% yr-more than-12 months to 19,358. 

“As departures enhance, Andy is on the lookout for methods to establish he is listening,” claimed a single veteran broker familiar with the strategy. “Too little as well late?? Perhaps. In which was this 3 several years back??”

While Wednesday’s announcement did not supply further more details on predicted adjustments, a independent outline shared with industry executives and some influential advisors involved supplemental spots of target, these types of as money advisor and consumer associate compensation, procedures all over hosting seminars, strengthening recognition golf equipment and education courses, and generating the Merrill Lynch bull a much more well known fixture.

Whether the work is effective may perhaps count on how significantly the business is prepared to go in creating alterations, according to previous managers and brokers. Some brokers have chafed at a 3% withholding on revenue that took result in 2019, for illustration, or banking solution income plans and compliance and documentation hurdles that they say have become distracting.

“It’s a financial institution compliance ecosystem,” stated Andew Kahng, a lifer who moved his $2-million team to Morgan Stanley in Fort Lauderdale in June but was not acquainted with the Challenge Thunder application. “I explain to everybody that I did not depart Merrill. I remaining Lender of America.”

The campaign’s launch coincides with Merrill reopening all of its brokerage workplaces, which had been closed for the duration of the pandemic, around the previous two months. It will make it possible for several far more vaccinated brokers to return to their desks for the to start with time in 18 months on September 9, in accordance to a individual memo from Sieg on Wednesday.  

“We’ve viewed a wonderful deal of electrical power and momentum as far more employees return to the office,” explained Sieg, who has been all around the region to rejoice office re-openings, in accordance to images posted to LinkedIn by Merrill supervisors. “Part of our plan [is] to construct upon this momentum over the next two months.”

Along with the broker-focused Venture Thunder, Merrill has also been centered on retaining prospects when brokers leave. The wirehouse has put in position groups of “shopper knowledge specialists” who simply call on clients of brokers who leave for a further agency and offer you payment savings and other lagniappes and has also pursued at the very least two previous teams in court around solicitation of prospects, notably people who were referred from the bank.

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