According to the newly released Reuters report last week, Merrill Lynch is on target to having 2,500 hires on board by the end of the year.
Over the last 18 months, Merrill has made significant changes in their hiring and training programs. The changes include expanding the candidate talent pool and including internal recruiters into the effort.
Leadership for the financial advisor training program includes one executive in each market exclusively focused on the program and a formal mentorship program for the trainees, with the mentors being compensated for the success their trainees achieve.
Content of the training program has been changed including the initial exam process. Emphasis on sales skills, with executive coaches and training for the certified financial planner exam have been refined.
So, what’s behind this push to grow their advisor force? Recent data put out by Ceruilli Associates that the bulk of wirehouse advisors or 60% are heading for retirement. In addition competition for top advisory talent remains high leading advisors to jump to other wirehouses or regional or independent firms as they search for the best deals.
One thing has not changed, according to Tom Fickinger, head of advisor growth and development for Merrill: “…the kind of candidates the firm seeks—typically 36 years old and some record of prior success, such as being a top MBA student or a military professional. Merrill’s trainees, with specific sets of skills are used in filling out existing advisory teams with a specific need.”