The recent move to focus on higher-end accounts at Merrill Lynch to give parent Bank of America's "Merrill Edge" unit more room to move has raised a lot of eyebrows throughout the industry and might leave a lot of Merrill advisors disgruntled.
Merrill warned last week that its reps will be penalized for accounts under $250,000 in size -- and if those accounts already represent more than 20% of a given rep's business, payout on new assets drops to zero.
Naturally, that kind of program incentivizes advisors to hunt the big accounts and leave the middle-class houeholds to the bank reps and call centers of Merrill Edge.
But as recruiter Danny Sarch points out, winning a small placement is often the way advisors land a big fish. And of course those little accounts can grow with time anyway, so why steer Merrill advisors away from them?
There's an opportunity here. Sarch sees it in the notion that a lot of Merrill advisors will be unhappy and looking to move. And rival advisors can go after those mid-range accounts and small initial placements more aggressively because a big competitor just left that market.