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Merrill Lynch Restructures Group Focused on the Ultra Wealthy

The brokerage also named new regional managing directors in the specialized U.S.-based unit.

Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch is restructuring part of its Private Banking and Investment Group that caters to ultra-wealthy individuals and institutions abroad.

Dan Plaus, the head of PBIG’s International and Institutional business, announced leadership changes and a reorganization of the group on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Merrill Lynch said. The goal of the changes is to better serve clients by having those within PBIG collaborate more closely and, ultimately, to expand its client base.

Several years ago, Merrill Lynch created a specialized unit of U.S.-based advisors focused on serving ultra-high-net-worth clients abroad, primarily in Canada, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama and Peru. The unit was modeled after PBIG, but didn’t work as closely within the group as it will now, following the reorganization.

Among the changes, PBIG’s International and Institutional unit will have eight hubs in the U.S., up from seven, and a new team called Strategic Wealth Advisory Services, or SWAS. The new team will provide services for PBIG’s international or institutional clients as needed, including wealth structuring, generational wealth and family planning, and day-to-day wealth management. The current managing director of PBIG International and Institutional’s Northeast region, Greg McGauley, will remain in his role, but will also lead the new SWAS team.

Merrill Lynch’s Center for Family Wealth Dynamics and Governance, an internal “think tank” that studies wealth dynamics and the complexities of managing wealth, will also become part of SWAS and will continue to be led by Stacy Allred.

In addition to the restructuring, Plaus also announced some leadership changes in PBIG International and Institutional unit. Andres De Corral, the executive in charge of the Miami international market, was promoted to head the newly added PBIG International and Institutional hub in Florida.

Linda Patel, who was previously the executive overseeing Merrill Lynch’s Valley Coast market, was also named the new regional managing director for the Texas region. She will be based in Dallas and is replacing Robert Johnson, who retired, a spokesperson said.

Inez Louzonis will continue to lead the group’s international strategy and Kevin Walsh will continue to head institutional strategy.

Overall, the PBIG group has been quietly growing in recent years. Last year, a spokesperson for Merrill Lynch said PBIG included 194 teams, which can include multiple advisors, up from 161 at the end of 2012. Johnson told WealthManagement in 2017 that the company “saw opportunities to scale our private banking business and meet client demand in underpenetrated markets, and have been dedicated to that strategy for the last several years.”

Bank of America shares little detail about PBIG and does not publicly state the group’s assets under management. Clients of the group typically have $10 million or more of investable assets, a spokesperson said in 2017.

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