Wachovia vs. Merrill

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Feb 7, 2008 8:34 pm

Hey folks,

  I am currently at Wachovia and am being agressively recruited by Merrill Lynch.  Anybody have any insight as to the pros and cons of one vs the other...?   Thanks
Feb 7, 2008 11:12 pm

IMO Merrill is the very best brand and culture in existence.

After 25 yrs at regional, indy, ria, and extensive interviews and research I joined Merrill.  Although there are negative aspects at any co., the strenghs simply overwelm them.  Only those who either cant cut it or dont want to step up to the plate with the best of the best will find a way to disagree.  When all the dust settles there will be certain folks still standing, and that will be Merrill. Do yourself a favor.  
Feb 8, 2008 6:30 pm

SOUTH makes a good point there, Ferris.  Sure, Wachovia is a fine firm, but I think his point is that ML is an INSTANTLY recognizable brand with the people we want to be doing business with.  The firm's brand recognition is higher than that of Pepsi. 

I happen to work for ML myself, so I hate to sound biased; I will say this, I really don't have to say much more to people when they ask what I do, other than, "I work at Merrill Lynch."  They almost always respond with one of the following:   - "... in retail?!" - "Oh!  You're an advisor?" - "They're a great firm - we have OUR money with Merrill Lynch!"
Feb 8, 2008 7:45 pm


- “They’re a great firm - we have OUR money with Merrill Lynch!”[/quote]
A great argument on why not to go there…think of how many prospects you will run accross that already have their accts there…
Feb 8, 2008 11:01 pm

 Ferris the ML brokers who went to Wach soon to not be producin so much

At Merrill as soon as I show a prospect (that I want) our service they cant wait to be   catered to by the best....there is no way anyone other than a few boutiques can show   HNW   clients the range of 1st class services at ML and Im not sure they can do more than what   they specialize in.
Feb 9, 2008 8:42 am

"I work for Merrill Lynch" Oh you work for those crooks. What a bunch of snake oil salesmen.

I wouldn't be caught dead working for Merrill Lynch. More people think bad of them then good.
Feb 9, 2008 2:53 pm


 Ferris the ML brokers who went to Wach soon to not be producin so much

At Merrill as soon as I show a prospect (that I want) our service they cant wait to be   catered to by the best....there is no way anyone other than a few boutiques can show   HNW   clients the range of 1st class services at ML and Im not sure they can do more than what   they specialize in.[/quote]

Boy, did YOU ever drink the kool aid, south!   You just keep telling yourself that.  I'm sure the entire world will be bustin' down your doors any second now ... "can't wait to be catered to!"   

Dream on.
Feb 9, 2008 6:16 pm

I started at Merrill and jointed AGE a few years ago. Now Merrill is been trying to get me to come back. Never going to happen.   

Feb 9, 2008 6:40 pm

Merrill guys in my building can’t walk to the coffee cart without putting on their jackets.  We have been CA casual for years…absolutely laugh at those clowns walking around in 85 degree weather with their suit on in the summer time.  Could not pay me enough to work for that shop.

Feb 9, 2008 6:49 pm


I am in your exact position.  I current work at WS, legacy AGE, and ML is hitting me hard with money, deferred comp, etc.   I have looked very hard at them, WS, and going Indy.    In all honesty I have not made a decision yet, but in here are a few takes from ad nasuem research on them.   Merrill as has been stated about is INSTANT recognition.  Some of that will be good and some bad.  I have taken the pulse of some folks who are very learned about investing and when I say Merrill about half say "great firm" and about half say "wouldnt trust them."  No one ever says "Merrill who?"  Being in the southeast Wachovia is very good recognition but in no way is it the brand of a Merrill (again either good or bad).   Another take is that IMHO, Merrill does not want clients under say $1,000,000 of investible assets.  Again, I'm betting those Merrill guys on the board will probably disagree or whatever but it has been emphasized to me by some of the ML guys I have talked to that in this business size does matter.  My book has a few good $1MM clients, but no where on the level they want and they want to help me utilize their brand to bring more of those guys on, which I think can be done.  Coming from AGE I would have to probably leave a good deal of my clients behind because there are quite a few less than $100,000 (they definately dont want any of those).   Merrill's research is top notch.  I have had access to their research during this recruitment process and must say that even though WS has C/Suisse, Bern, and others it in no way compares to Merrill's.  If I ever went Indy I would give up some of my % just to get my hands on Merrill's stuff ,its that good (yea i know thats a dream LOL).   The cash payout at Merrill is less than what you are used to at AGE or WS.  But their deferred comp. which some vests in 5 years and some in 8 does actually increase your payout from AGE or WS if you are doing production of about $300k or greater.  Their grid is pretty tough to get a handle on, but their is one posted on another site.  GOOGLE ML payout grid.  One other thing, if you are doing $500k or less they are really going to be on you to produce, as they should by giving you a good check upfront.  Again, IMHO, ML does not consider you a player until you are at least doing something like $800k or more.   Finally, ML is big, really, really, really big on teams.  They really like you to get in and get your production rolling and then try to team up with someone.  It was said to me on more than one occasion that they would like me to hook up with another broker at a later date, after I prove myself.  There are a lot of individual brokers, just appears to me they love doing the team thing.   Do a lot of research on Merrill and you will find both pros and cons.  The upfront money is incredible, but there are no free lunches.    
Feb 9, 2008 6:51 pm

why do people take offense to those who want to look professional?  i am not saying NOT wearing a suit is bad.  why do those who choose not to get so irritated at those of us who prefer the more formal look.  never had a client i really wanted comment that he/she thought my suit was a deal breaker.  just don’t see why it is such a bad thing.

Feb 9, 2008 7:12 pm

I think a lot of the Indy guys, which I am strongly considering, frown upon the suit thingy.  I think it does make you look more professional, but hey its an individual thing and thats one of the benefits of indy, run your shop the way you want it.  Hell if a guy can wear cutoffs and make money doing this job more power to him LOL.

Feb 9, 2008 8:00 pm

2 of ML’s finest invaded our small town in the late 90’s.  They advised 100+ employees of a local biz to take early retirement, promising 15+% returns by investing in high tech and aggressive growth.   Then they churned them from A share mf’s to b shares,then took big cdsc charges from b’s to a bonus VA.  One of the ML fa’s had clients make checks payable to him to be invested in a “special cd account.”  Most ee’s lost 50-75% of their retirement. Many that quit their jobs are either working at lower paying jobs or unemployed. Arbitration and a good legal team helped many.  It was a sobering experience for me to have some of these employees actually weep on my desk.  They probably don’t share the lofty impression of ML that many in our industry do.  btw, ML fired the creative fa with the “special cd account” but the other ML fa is still a star at ML.  

Feb 9, 2008 11:14 pm

You’re right it could have.  Even EDJ reportedly had a GP steal 14mil over the last 20 years.   But I doubt that any of those firms would have kept him on like ML did.  This guy belongs in a bucket shop, not selling for a great company.  Also, the point that I probably didn’t make very well is that if ML is our leader as mentioned before…the compliance and OSJ systems certainly aren’t cutting edge or industry leading.  

Feb 10, 2008 1:42 am

Feb 10, 2008 1:57 am

What do you think of my tagline, Joe?

Feb 11, 2008 12:53 am

Feb 18, 2008 12:01 am

Regarding prospects with account at ML:

That seems true on the surface, but ML demographic intelligence in my area (large suburban/metro) shows less than 20% market share in HH over $250K in many zip codes. They list zip codes we should focus on. Does you firm provides you with that research?

Feb 18, 2008 12:04 am

EZ Money:

Doubt you could even if you wanted to.

“More people think bad of them then good.” = Based on what? Your opinion?

Feb 18, 2008 12:05 am

Hyundai vs. Lexus?