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In the midst of the billions and millions tossed about during Merrill Lynchduring the quarterly summary conference call, the figure on which the boss of the telecommunications powerhouse placed the most emphasis was relatively paltry: 97.

That’s the number of new advisors Merrill brought in in the quarter ending Sept. 30, most of whom came from the company’s accelerated growth program. The quarter marked the “strongest recruiting quarter in more than a decade,” said the president of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Andy Sieg said Monday, and even surpassed the last quarter when 93 advisors joined the wirehouse.

The program targets brokers with 12 years of experience or less and offers a five-year guaranteed salary. Salaries are based on recruits’ production in their previous companies. Launched in 2019, the program sets goals for new hires, including retaining some assets from their previous company, as noted. In April, touting its success, Sieg said the company plans to double its hiring efforts under the program.

“If you intend to have a long and successful career as an adviser, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management remains the destination of choice,” Sieg said Monday.

But all has not been rosy on the recruiting side. Sieg revealed company-wide broker attrition topped 4% year-to-date, close to the historical average, but down from around 5% at one point in the year. last.

And while churn remains an issue, Sieg said the company has done well to minimize corresponding customer churn. “As advisors leave us for other companies, we see more of their clients staying with Merrill and Bank of America…Four to six months later, half of their clients have been retained by our company,” said Seat. Two years ago, the customer retention rate was less than 40%, he said.

Sieg attributed the improvement in customer retention to steps taken by Merrill to match customers with replacement advisors.

Last month, Merrill said it would apply its Advisor Match system to serve affluent people in underrepresented communities who have never used an advisor. Investors and advisors are matched based on their answers to questions about personality characteristics. Sieg said it was too early to assess Advisor Match’s performance, but in an effort to exploit affluent people in underrepresented communities, Sieg noted on Monday that 45% – or more than 800 – of advisors in the The company’s development program advisors are people of color.

In numbers

In yesterday’s earnings summary, Merrill’s wealth management division reported about $2.7 trillion in client assets, of which about $1 trillion is managed on a discretionary basis.

Sieg also reported that Wealth Management added nearly 5,200 new client relationships in the last quarter. This represents a year-over-year increase of about 1,000, or about 23%, and brings the year-to-date total to about 17,000 new accounts.

Meanwhile, inflows of assets under management for wealth management were $4.11 billion, representing a 298% increase from the prior quarter, but a 72.2% decline from in the quarter of the previous year.

The bank also highlighted strong digital investor engagement, with 80% of Merrill households “active across the business” and 1.3 million “secure messages” exchanged between advisors and clients. This data point comes as regulators crack down on uncontrolled communications.

Bank of America also reported $538 billion in private banking client assets and said it added approximately 550 new ultra-high net worth client relationships to the channel.

Advisor onboarding also increased — for the first time in a year — across operations at Merrill and parent Bank of America. The net increase in advisors companywide reached 392 last quarter, bringing the overall total to 18,841.

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