Merrill Shuffles Managers in Ultra-Rich Business, Adds Centralized Support Unit
Merrill Lynch has shuffled the leadership of its Private Banking and Investment Group for the very rich, adding two new regional directors in Texas and Florida and creating a new centralized unit to serve those clients domestically and internationally, according to an internal announcement.
Linda Patel will move from her role as a market executive in charge of a complex of wealth management offices in Thousand Oaks, California, to become a managing director in charge of what Merrill now calls its Texas region, based in Dallas. She replaces Robert A. Johnson, who has retired from overseeing what had been called the Southwest region, a spokeswoman said.
Merrill also carved out a new PBIG region in Florida from its broader Southeast grouping, naming Andres De Corral as the unit’s eighth regional managing director. He had been a complex director of Merrill’s international brokers in Miami, where he will remain based.
Servicing very wealthy clients has become an increasingly important part of wealth management for large full-service firms as they refine their customer segmentation and send a growing number of merely affluent and middle-class clients to no-frills units and automated advisory services. Merrill Lynch does not pay advisors on household accounts with less than $250,000, referring them to Bank of America and its no-frills Merrill Edge unit.
PBIG, which includes around 350 advisors serving clients with at least $2.5 million of investable assets, generated around $1.3 billion in revenue from $260 billion in assets as of December 21, 2016, according to the LinkedIn biography of division head Don Plaus.
In his memo announcing this week’s changes, Plaus also unveiled a Strategic Wealth Advisory Services (SWA) “sub-unit” aimed at centralizing investment, wealth structuring, generational wealth and other advisory services to domestic, international and so-called institutional clients. Morgan Stanley earlier this month announced a similarly restructured unit aimed at providing family office management advice, investment strategies and “lifestyle” concierge services to its “upper-high-net-worth” clients and the “private wealth” advisors servicing them.
The Merrill SWAS unit will be led by Greg McGauley, who will also retain his position as PBIG’s Northeast regional managing director in Boston, according to the memo.
PBIG’s Family Wealth Dynamics and Governance, a research unit led by Stacy Allred, will be housed within SWAS, according to the memo. Inez Louzonis and Kevin Walsh will continue overseeing international strategy and institutional strategy, respectively, according to the memo.
Plaus took the reins of PBIG almost a year ago following a broad reorganization of Merrill’s wealth management division by its new head at the time, Andy Sieg.
Six of PBIG’s existing regional managing directors will continue in their current positions, according to the memo. They are Mollie Colavita in “Metro” New York, Tracy Murphy in the Pacific Northwest, Mike Nies in the Southeast (exclusive of Florida), Michael Rogers in the Southwest (exclusive of Texas), Brett Thelander in the Midwest and McGauley in the Northeast.