Merrill Lynch Wealth Management has removed interns from the accounts of some sophisticated clients whose needs cannot be fully met by standby advisors.
The move affects less than 200 of the 1,000 interns who transferred to banking positions over the summer as part of Merrill’s changes to its advisor development program, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Clients are being redistributed among established Merrill advisers, the source notes, without specifying the amount of assets that have changed hands.
“This impacts a small number of trainee counselors and a small number of clients,” the source said.
Local managers of the Counselor Development Program were notified of the change last month by Eric Schimpf, co-responsible for advisor training at Merrill, and Susan axelrod, Director of Supervision at Merrill.
“This decision was based on the level of sophistication of client needs and the type of solutions that early stage advisors are allowed to offer under the program,” said a spokesperson for Merrill.
Merrill does not intend to systematically inform clients of interns of the change because the Financial sector regulatory authority The rule requiring clients to be notified when advisers leave a business does not apply in this situation, according to the source. Axelrod was Finra’s executive vice president for regulatory operations before joining Merrill in 2018.
Interns have been urged to contact customers to let them know about the change, according to the Merrill spokesperson.
Clients who wish to continue working with the intern after being presented with Merrill’s wealth management options will have the option to do so after going through a “discovery” process, according to the source. Merrill did not elaborate on the details of this process, according to the source.
Merrill will compensate interns for deleted clients with a one-time payment “based on the previous compensation plan and the activity associated with those relationships,” according to the spokesperson.
Merrill revised their advisor development program in May, cutting the training period in half and relying primarily on Bank of Americaits own staff for applicants.
“We need to develop a force of professional advisors who are well equipped to serve current and future clients,” President of Merrill Andy Sieg told the media at the time.
The training program was reduced from 36 months to 18 months, according to Sieg, who also said at the time that Merrill expects to have around 1,000 trainees graduate each year.
The latest change was first reported by AdvisorHub.
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