Merrill Lynch has tapped Chris Dupuy as its new head of global investment solutions. He replaces Mitch Cox, who left Merrill to work at Barclays Wealth. Dupuy is a long time confidant of Dan Sontag, Merrill’s brokerage chief.
Because this is Merrill we’re talking about, the move to elevate Dupuy is far from uncontroversial. The frustration at the firm is palpable, and has been growing since the takeover by Bank of America. Some brokers believe that Sontag chose Dupuy for his personal loyalty, passing over a a number of more qualified condiates. Dupuy’s supporters, however, point out that he is a 24 year Merrill veteran who has been both head of Americas distribution for global wealth management, chief operating officer of the Americas bank group and a national sales manager.
Sources say some of the most productive brokers in the Merrill Lynch Weath Management group are considering throwing in the towel. Recruiters–who asked not to be named–confirm that they have been contacted by Merrill brokers seeking alternative employment. Of course, Merrill competitors are eagerly attempting to poach its most productive brokers, hoping to take advantage of the turmoil.
Some brokers have been disheartened by the departures of many senior managers since the Bank of America takeover. They believe that they’ve lost their top advocates in the organisation. One particular area causing resentment is compensation: the brokers fear the bank is paying top dollar to investment bankers and traders to retain “talent,” and that this is coming at a cost to broker compensation. Of course, compensation envy is nothing new on Wall Street.
If the situation isn’t resolved, you can expect lots of summer departures from Merrill. Brokers may well decide not to return from their August vacations, starting over at a new shop after labour day. Merrill has been fighting the talent drain by becoming very aggressive in hiring from outside the firm, which has the side effect of ruffling the feathers of the long time veterans. It’s a widening circle of resentment and ill-will at Merrill.
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