Sallie Krawcheck's departure from Merrill Lynch puts the biggest brokerage firm on Wall Street in a precarious position.
Krawcheck was a veteran of wirehouse culture and fought to let Merrill advisors consider themselves a separate fiefdom inside Bank of America.
She considered BofA efforts to force her reps to sell banking products crass.
And she kept promoting insiders to key positions.
Now that she's been forced out in an effort to "delayer and simplify" the bank's management structure, the most significant detail is that she won't be replaced.
There's no separate advocate for the brokers any more to keep them from jumping ship if the bankers lay down the law.
And there's nobody to run Merrill if -- as some bankers have told me -- it becomes necessary for the cash-strapped Bank of America to spin it out down the road.
That's interesting. The only route to independence for these advisors now seems to be the back door.