The head of Merrill Lynch wants the world to know her reps don't have to push banking products from their new corporate parent, Bank of America. Oh really?
Sallie Krawcheck says she considers "cross-selling" a dirty word.
When you go back to all the press releases and earnings calls from Bank of America touting the value of the Thundering Herd as a sales network for banking products, it's a striking statement.
Does Krawcheck mean that Merrill reps now have the freedom to sell BofA products to their clients, if they want to do so -- but nobody's holding a gun to anyone's head?
This theory has some traction in the industry. Plenty of reps and consultants have told me that the secret of Merrill's strong retention rates lately has been the fact that the Thundering Herd now has a vast shelf of new banking toys to play with, and they're having fun expanding their practices.
But there are also rumors that plenty of advisors are getting tired of being "encouraged" to provide banking advice to their existing clientele. The "gun" there is already smoking in the form of at least one high-profile defection.
More deeply, Krawcheck seems to be discounting the idea of mandatory cross-selling because it hits pretty close to the reality that all wirehouse reps work under the assumption -- if not always an open mandate -- that they'll sell company product.
That might be mutual funds or other investment products. More recently, it might be CDs or other banking products.
The end result is the same, and it's ultimately what keeps the wirehouse from becoming the independent channel -- no matter how hard the bosses protest otherwise.