Merrill Lynch, Bank of America's wealth management business, said Friday it had appointed a new leader responsible for more than 100 branches and thousands of its advisors.
Carole Wentz, who has been an employee at Merrill Lynch for 24 years, was recently named the new executive of the firm's Texas Mountain South division. Prior to her new role, Wentz was the market executive for Greater Orange County, Calif.
She replaced Vince Fertitta, a 22-year employee who stepped down from the position in February to explore other opportunities within the company, a person familiar with the changes told WealthManagement.com.
Wentz is now one of the highest-ranking employees of the brokerage that oversees more than $2.2 trillion in client assets. She is one of only six division executives (two of whom are women) that report directly to Andy Sieg, the head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. The six division executives communicate with Sieg on almost a daily basis, according to a person familiar with the role.
The Texas Mountain South division that Wentz is in charge of includes six states—Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas—as well as 17 markets, 103 Merrill Lynch Wealth Management offices and more than 3,300 advisors.
Despite market headwinds, Merrill Lynch is succeeding in incentivizing its advisors to find new clients, and the "thundering herd" delivered last year, helping Bank of America's wealth manager achieve record revenue in 2018. Full-year revenue at Merrill Lynch rose to a record $15.9 billion in 2018, up $607 million or 4 percent year over year. The brokerage unit accounted for the majority of the $19.3 billion in revenue generated by the bank's Global Wealth and Investment Management division.
In addition to record revenue, wealth management's profitability also inched higher in 2018. GWIM's pretax margin eclipsed 29 percent for the fourth quarter and finished at 28.3 percent for the year, up from 26.8 percent in 2017.
Sieg, in an exclusive interview with WealthManagement.com, said he sees Merrill Lynch moving toward a far more integrated approach to banking and wealth management as barriers between units of Bank of America fall. The goal is to deliver a one-stop shop of financial services for all clients, from banking to investment management to financial planning, he said.