Bank of America Corp. is reportedly going on a spending spree to add more financial advisers.
B of A is looking to add 2,000 advisers, according to an article in Financial Times, which quoted unnamed sources.
Most of the additions will be in the United States, with some small additions also in Europe and Asia, the newspaper said. And many of them will be young trainees instead of more experienced advisers lured from other companies.
B of A was not available for comment.
Bill Willis, an industry recruiter, said that B of A's Merrill Lynch unit and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney are aggressively training new advisers. He said it would not be surprising if the goal of 2,000 new advisers at Merrill ultimately has a larger component of recruits and fewer trainees.
B of A's global wealth and investment management unit, which includes Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management, U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management and Columbia Management, posted fourth-quarter net income of $1.3 billion, up from $1.1 billion the prior quarter. Net income from Merrill Lynch Global alone was $1.5 billion, up 22% year over year, while U.S. Trust reported net income of $174 million. Columbia posted a net loss of $7 million, which the bank blamed for dragging down otherwise positive results.
Alois Pirker, research director at Aite Group, said the plan to add 2,000 retail brokers to its 15,000-strong broker force shows the importance of head count in this business.
"B of A realizes that [its] opportunities lie within the client base of the retail banking side," Pirker said. "If this cross-selling effort is done well, Merrill's asset base could see a significant boost."