It was inevitable. Some of Merrill Lynch’s 15,000 financial advisors are feeling pressure to sell parent company Bank of America’s checking and savings account products—and they’re not happy about it, say sources.
Some advisors’ assistants are even getting financial incentives to push the bank’s products. And mass emails are being sent around to advisors’ clients encouraging them to open Bank of America accounts, though advisors have the option of crossing their own clients off the email list first. Merrill did not immediately respond to requests for confirmation, or comment.
Not all advisors feel put upon, of course. “What else do they expect,” asked one advisor who preferred to remain nameless. “We were bought by a bank, so they’re going to want to sell banking products. I’m not forced to sell anything. I believe there are some incentives, but I’m not paying that much attention to it. Every year there’s some new matrix that managers must hit for their own bonuses in their own ways. But if you’re experienced enough, you focus on the client, and that’s all that matters.”
The advisor is not putting his own clients into the BofA accounts, in any case. He prefers Merrill’s cash management account, or CMA—a brokerage account that links checking and a visa card with a money market and securities account. “I have always questioned the emphasis on banking products,” he said. “I think the CMA account is the premier banking solution.”