At least two longtime Merrill Lynch insiders are reportedly on the short list to run the giant wirehouse once Lyle LaMothe leaves this spring.
John Thiel, who currently runs Bank of America's high-end private banking operation, and Andrew Sieg, who handles retirement services, are in the running, as are at least two people who currently report to the Merrill brokerage chief.
Both have a track record with Merrill running back to the late '80s and early '90s.
While it's too early to speculate, some gossip suggests that appointing Thiel would indicate that Merrill is in line to compete more aggressively with the big banks that currently court ultra-high-net-worth accounts. Sieg's current responsibilities are a bit more in the mass affluent arena and could tilt the balance in that direction.
On the other hand, both men have proved themselves in several different roles -- working with Sallie Krawcheck in various capacities over the years -- and will probably enforce whatever Merrill's strategy happens to be.