Wealth management giant Merrill Lynch wants its worst-performing markets to catch up and just created a new role to oversee their progress
Merrill Lynch, Bank of America's wealth management arm, has created a new role, the national business development executive. It's appointed a former market executive, Craig Young, to the post. Young will focus on leveling advisers' performance across the US, aiming to ensure that "there's not much distance between our best-performing and our worst-performing markets," said Andy Sieg, the president of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, told Business Insider in an interview. Visit BI Prime for more wealth management stories.
Bank of America's wealth management business has created a new leadership position to help its less successful wealth adviser markets catch up with its strongest performers. Merrill Lynch Wealth Management on Tuesday named Craig Young, previously a market executive with the firm on the East Coast, as its first national business development executive. Young will be based in New York and report to Andy Sieg, the president of Merrill Lynch. He'll focus on leveling advisers' performance across the US, aiming to ensure that "there's not much distance between our best-performing and our worst-performing markets," Sieg said in an interview with Business Insider on Tuesday. Merrill and its wirehouse rivals have dialed way back on recruiting experienced financial advisers, and have instead focused on boosting productivity from their existing headcount. Sieg said that the new position will be focused on staying on top of performance across the country's many markets and making sure that local leaders are being held accountable. "At the market level, there's substantial difference in terms of how strongly we're performing," he said. A spokesperson declined to provide examples of markets with disparate performance levels. More generally, market executives tend to track measures including market profit and loss, customer acquisition and growth revenue. Young will be responsible for bringing consistency across the 105 markets the wirehouse has across the US. Market executives will continue to drive their own markets, but Young's role will be to help them devise better execution plans and hold them accountable. "We created a several-day program to help enhance the skills of market executives. We followed that up with the creation of market plans so that each of our 105 markets is operating against a written plan," Sieg said. "This is now kind of a next step, which is how do we actually build a function into our organization that's helping us create that level of consistency?"
Young, who was previously the market executive for the area that encompasses Westchester, New York and Greenwich, Connecticut, joined Merrill in 2015 as an associate market executive in Los Angeles. He later served as the market executive in Pasadena, California from 2016 to 2018 before moving to the New York area. He'll now oversee internal organizations including Merrill Lynch's Advisor Growth Network and the Market Executive Strategy Council, which partly aim to forge communication between financial advisers and business leaders. Merrill Lynch reported some $2.6 trillion in client assets and around 17,400 financial advisers and financial solutions advisers as of December 31. Young will travel to different markets and spend time with local leaders "in their markets, and in their offices, so that he can keep a close pulse on how the strategy is being executed" on the ground, Sieg said. Before Young got into the wealth management business, he earned his bachelor's degree in business administration from California Polytechnic State University, where he played football as a running back. "As a young kid, I wanted to do something in business," he told the Los Angeles Sentinel newspaper in 2015. "Football was my passion but as a college student, I was also interested in finance. I felt that business would allow me to bring who I am into what I do and to put my best skill sets to work." Like its traditional wealth management competitors, Merrill Lynch has grappled with the industry's changing relationships and roles. The business isn't attracting newcomers like it used to, and firms are focusing heavily on recruitment and robust internal training efforts to draw top talent and show them the ropes. Business Insider first reported last month that Merrill Lynch is expanding the scope of its training programs, opening up development resources to its 6,500 client associates. More than 111,500 advisers will retire in the next decade, representing more than one-third of industry adviser headcount and assets, according to estimates from the industry research firm Cerulli Associates.SEE ALSO: https://www.businessinsider.com/bank-of-america-merrill-lynch-wealth-management-changing-training-program-2020-1 SEE ALSO: The head of Merrill Lynch says the firm has zero interest in buying a robo-adviser — and that comes as wealth-tech startup launches are plummeting Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here's how the company makes money.
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The coronavirus pandemic has spooked investors. A financial adviser can help in decision-making and sticking to...The coronavirus pandemic has spooked investors. A financial adviser can help in decision-making and sticking to a financial plan. Business Insider has highlighted the UK's top financial advisers to watch in 2020. Click here for more BI Prime content. The coronavirus pandemic has interrupted stock markets and made many investors wary about the best way to manage their money during these tough times. A financial adviser can help define a strategy and ensure you keep to it, but it can be hard to choose one. The latest data from the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK regulator for financial services, indicates only one in 10 adults seek financial advice when making investment decisions. The recent market volatility may push more toward professional advice, leaving many to question how to choose the right person. 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British investors have flocked to DIY platforms with the coronavirus shaking global markets, but financial advisers warn of big risks
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She added that a financial planner would have the discipline to maintain a long-term view even amid the kind of volatility in global markets from the past few months. "It is at times like these that those who don't have a financial planner wish that they had," she said. "When the S&P index falls 34%, it is a brave and rare DIY investor that will have the resolve to leave it alone." A long-term view also means being able to predict problems, such as decisions that might inadvertently lead to higher taxes down the road. "A financial adviser would start with the end in mind and look holistically at a situation to think carefully about before you get into something, how will you get out," Macdonald said. "You may find someone is a higher-rate taxpayer but has a spouse in the lower-tax band whose name it may be better to invest in." Macdonald suggested advisers could also help clients with more niche desires like the impact investing, which his firm specializes in. "Many investors put environmental impact and sustainability as a more important metric than outright financial performance, but it is hard to research these types of funds on your own," he said. How to decide between DIY or using a financial adviser Not all circumstances require a financial adviser. Holly Mackay of the investing-guidance website Boring Money pointed out that DIY platforms could be cheaper than taking financial advice, though advisers would argue that they offer extra value by helping form a plan and ensuring investors stick to it. Boring Money has tables designed to compare the costs and reviews of DIY websites, while the adviser search engine VouchedFor features adviser ratings and customer feedback. There is also a middle ground with robo-advisers such as Nutmeg or Wealthify in the UK and Wealthfront and Acorns in the US, which build and manage automated portfolios based on risk questionnaires that investors complete online. 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