It looks like Bank of America's campaign to bring the lofty Merrill Lynch brand down into the mass market is succeeding, at least by the sprawling corporation's standards.
BofA is so pleased with the first 500 advisors in its "Merrill Edge" group that it wants to double its staff on that side by the end of the year.
These advisors are still primarily based in the central Merrill Edge call center, but BofA has been aggressively recruiting in-branch bank reps in major metropolitan areas.
By the end of the year, the goal seems to be 1,000 advisors, roughly evenly split between the branches and the call center.
As completely captive reps, their job is simply to cross-sell whatever clients in the mass affluent segment -- $50,000 and more to invest -- are interested in buying. Bigger fish are referred back to Merrill Lynch proper.