Merrill Lynch in early August dropped its financial plan quota for brokers.
The new policy was hinted at by Merrill President Stanley O'Neal when he took over the retail reins this past February from longtime private client chief Launny Steffens. James Gorman, nabbed from McKinsey & Co. in July, now runs Merrill's day-to-day retail operations.
The quota of 10 Financial Foundations plans a year was Steffens' brainchild.
A Merrill spokesperson downplays the significance of eliminating the quota, saying brokers were free to waive the 250 dollar charge for the plan.
One Merrill producer who completes many plans every year says the quota has not been a problem. "It's something that works," she says. "I have lost fewer clients who have these plans."
But the policy has generated friction among other reps. Even top producers could not ignore the requirement without loosing their production-club status.
The planning dictate led many brokers to do multiple plans on any willing (and some say unwilling) client, family member--and even on the deceased.
"That's no joke," says a former Merrill branch manager about doing plans for dead people.
"I believe plans should be done as the broker sees fit, not to fill a quota," says another Merrill producer. "The plans are good for clients who have between 500,000 dollars and 10 million dollars in assets. That's not everybody."
The rep says the quota was killed to "eliminate many of the bogus plans brokers put up justto meet their quota."