The big news hidden in Bank of America's latest quarterly results is that Merrill Lynch is hanging onto its brokers better -- and signing new ones fast.
By industry standards, Merrill has already hit ambitious recruiting targets by beefing up the Thundering Herd by a net 1.1%, 184 new advisors.
The press attributes that success to the 330% signing bonuses the firm is handing top producers who come aboard from elsewhere.
But really, is that number much bigger than what the big wheels in the business would get anywhere else in the wirehouse world?
What's more interesting is that Merrill's churn rate is at a record low. They are simply losing fewer advisors to other bulge bracket banks than anyone else -- and pulling more advisors from the competition than they lose.
This is a classic case of "culture" at work. Merrill's corporate culture is rewarding longevity just a bit better than the rest of the Street.
And as a result, the business is growing faster than trend.
You have to wonder whether U.S. Trust, the other major wealth management unit at Bank of America, can say that -- despite the draconian "garden leave" rules set up to keep those advisors from fleeing.