Merrill Lynch Overview: Merrill Lynch is a major integrated financial services firm, acquired by Bank of America in 2008. Its lines of business include:
- Financial Advisory Services
- Banking Services
- Investment Management
- Investment Banking
- Securities Trading
Job Openings: See this listing of job openings at Merrill Lynch.
Size: The firm is among the industry’s largest, across multiple dimensions, including:
- Financial Advisors = 16,151 (mid-2012)
- Assets in Client Accounts = approx. $2.2 trillion
History and Corporate Culture: The Merrill Lynch Principles have long been cited as a model statement of corporate values and standards, as well as a reliable window into the firm’s culture, in past decades. In 2010, the launch of Merrill Edge represented the firm’s first foray into discount brokerage.
Positives: The firm’s comprehensive lines of business and worldwide footprint offer extensive career opportunities, including possibilities for gaining experience in multiple sectors of the industry. Its long reputation as an industry leader makes a tour of duty there a great enhancement to your resume, should you later seek career options elsewhere.
In February 2010, Merrill Lynch announced a plan to add 2,000 financial advisors during the year, mainly through training new recruits with no prior experience in the field. Before cutbacks starting roughly in 2001, Merrill Lynch had a long history as the premier developer of new financial advisors, with a large and highly-respected training program.
Negatives: Huge, multi-billion dollar losses and writedowns in 2007-09 wiped out 2-3 years’ worth of prior profits. Merrill Lynch has had extreme cyclicality in employment over the past two decades, with total employment swinging between troughs of about 40,000 (in 1987 and 2003) and peaks of around 60,000 (in 2001 and 2007) employees. The acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America has shored up the company’s financial position, but leaves questions about future strategic direction. One example of this confusion is the decision in 2009 to drop the familiar bull logo, one of the best-known corporate trademarks anywhere and thus an integral part of the Merrill Lynch brand, followed by a reversal in 2010, with a new ad campaign featuring the bull logo.
According to an article in Bloomberg BusinessWeek (“The Bull Whisperer,” 3/7/2011), a growing number of veteran Merrill Lynch financial advisors are disenchanted with the strategic direction of the firm under Bank of America leadership, and defections to rivals are an increasing problem. The article indicates that boutique wealth management firms are especially attractive to seasoned Merrill Lynch financial advisors with large books of business.
Per the article, the chief concerns among Merrill Lynch financial advisors are:
- Forced movement of small clients to Merrill Edge
- Being pressured to push Bank of America products, in a cross-selling drive
- Tarnishing of the Merrill Lynch brand by its association with troubled and mass-market Bank of America, especially after Merrill Lynch’s return to robust profitability
In the article, Merrill Lynch and Bank of America management vigorously dispute the significance of the dissatisfaction and the defections.
For More Information: Follow the links below for more detail, including profiles of major career paths within Merrill Lynch.