With many of the larger integrations from its Merrill Lynch acquisition complete, Bank of America Corp. can now take advantage of some subtler cross-selling opportunities, starting with retirement planning.
In particular, B of A's global wealth and investment management business wants to find ways to offer its products to B of A's existing corporate and middle-market customers, said Andy Sieg, head of retirement and philanthropic services for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Geoffrey Bobroff of Bobroff Consulting in East Greenwich, R.I., said that working with Merrill Lynch to expand an employee benefit program for corporate clients could mean a considerable increase in assets for B of A. "I think there was the obvious cross-selling opportunity that everyone realized when B of A bought Merrill, but beneath that, there are a lot of opportunities for B of A and Merrill to co-venture," he said.
Sieg said cross-selling is a key to the growth strategy at B of A, whose retirement and philanthropic services unit has $450 billion of assets under management.
"We have significant growth targets that are rooted in better serving our existing clients, and broadening and deepening those relationships, and reaching out and partnering with other areas of the bank to deliver more services to institutional clients," Sieg said.
Sallie Krawcheck, hired in August as the $2.39 trillion-asset company's head of wealth management and brokerage operations, has identified retirement as a B of A growth area. During an Oct. 5 press conference, she called the business "a hidden gem" for B of A. "You don't hear much about it, but you will be hearing more about it," she promised.
Sieg, hired by Krawcheck from Citigroup Inc. to lead Bank of America's retirement growth initiative, said it is critical to look at the entire organization to find areas of synergy.
"I think you see in many organizations that businesses grow in silos," he said. "We have to make sure best-of-class solutions are available across all of our businesses."
Sieg said the realigned retirement management team, announced Tuesday, will help the Charlotte company improve its cross-selling.
Kevin Crain, who formerly headed plan participant solutions, will now head institutional client relationships, including institutional retirement business development
Sieg said Crain's job will include "building bridges" between the retirement management team and other areas of B of A, specifically the commercial banking business, which maintains relationships with midsize businesses nationally.
"Historically, B of A didn't have scale capabilities around 401(k) plans and other retirement platforms," Sieg said. "But coming out of the merger, we can now bring more retirement solutions to our clients. We want to take advantage of that."
B of A also announced that Aimee DeCamillo, head of personal retirement solutions for Merrill Lynch's global wealth management division, will look for ways to cross-sell retirement education and planning, individual retirement account products and the rollover process, 401(k) plan participant solutions, section 529 college-savings plans, health savings accounts, retirement income solutions and channel management.
Sieg said this can be a real "growth engine" for B of A.
B of A also said it has rehired David Roberts as head of equity plan services. He will manage its equity plan platform, the executive advisory services program and the nonqualified deferred-compensation platform.
Roberts left Merrill earlier this year.
This executive realignment is not B of A's first attempt under Krawcheck and Sieg to add retirement assets. In October it rolled out My Retirement Income, a group of products that let customers nearing or in retirement automatically transfer funds from a Merrill Lynch cash management account into a B of A deposit account monthly or quarterly.
The products were the first to directly connect a Merrill account with a B of A account.
Sieg said developing a stronger array of retirement income products is a "central element" of Krawcheck's strategy.
Also in October, B of A unveiled theMerrill Lynch Retirement Income Framework, a proprietary platform that will help Merrill Lynch advisers work with clients.
"We want to continue to develop our product mix," Sieg said. "We have learned that the most cost-effective way to increase our assets is to offer additional products and services to our existing customers."