Sallie Krawcheck's departure from Bank of America Merrill Lynch continues to prompt plenty of speculation.
Some consultants are pointing out that lower levels of management at Merrill, including well-liked John Thiel, are still in place.
However, the fact that Krawcheck is not being replaced is ominous.
She served as a kind of ambassador from the brokerage unit to the corporate headquarters of Bank of America proper.
Losing her means that efforts to talk about what Merrill advisors love, hate, and need to do their jobs will be routed to lower channels.
In an environment where Bank of America is on the defensive, that lack of an advocate at the top can hurt.
On the one hand, Merrill Lynch is basically carrying Bank of America's depressed lending unit these days, so a smart management team won't tamper with that.
But on the other, banks have historically tried to integrate captive brokerage units into their existing business in less-than-optimal ways.
A push to get Merrill reps to generate more revenue to cover up new trouble in the bank's loan portfolio would not be well received by the advisors -- to put it mildly.
Either way, many Merrill advisors were already disgruntled and waiting for their retention contracts to tick out. If any wave of defections materializes, it probably won't be before January.