Merrill’s Ben Prince, Head of Community Markets Unit, to Leave
Benjamin Prince, who has been leading Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s effort to revitalize its branches in more than 100 small-town markets, is taking early retirement, according to several people familiar with his plans.
Prince, whose entire 21-year brokerage career has been spent at Bank of America and firms that it purchased, did not respond to requests for comment.
Since March 2017, he has been shepherding Merrill’s effort to energize its more than 100 branches in small communities, a job that he has found personally exhausting as he shuttles across a territory extending from the northeastern U.S. to Hawaii, according to a person familiar with his thoughts.
The California-based executive, who is around 50, cited medical issues and a desire to spend more time on the East Coast with one of his sons as reasons for leaving, the source said.
Merrill Lynch spokespeople declined to comment, other than to say that Prince is currently an employee and head of community markets, and that the firm remains committed to the community markets strategy.
Prior to assuming his current role, Prince was division head of Merrill’s brokerage operations throughout the southwestern U.S. Merrill Wealth Management head Andy Sieg eliminated the division as part of a broad reorganization shortly after he assumed his position in January 2017.
Sieg himself was promoted this week to Bank of America’s senior management team, along with Katy Knox, president of BofA’s U.S. Trust and Bank of America Private Bank units. As direct reports to BofA Chief Executive Brian Moynihan, they replace Global Wealth and Investment Management division head Terry Laughlin, who unexpectedly died in October.
Prince, a graduate of Union College in Schenectady, NY, first registered as a broker with Fleet Boston Bank’s discount brokerage unit in 1997, and remained with the firm as it was absorbed into Quick & Reilly in 1998 and into Bank of America in 2004. BofA purchased Merrill Lynch in 2009.
“Before joining Bank of America more than 20 years ago, Ben founded and sold two businesses,” he wrote in his LinkedIn profile. “Ben’s entrepreneurship and decades of experience in both banking and brokerage inform his client-centric wealth management philosophy.”
Merrill and Prince were defendants in a sexual orientation discrimination complaint brought in 2017 by Merrill’s former Beverly Hills complex manager David V. Hunt. The lawsuit, whose charges Merrill and Hunt denied, has been settled under confidential terms, said a person familiar with the litigation.