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Merrill Revamps Wealth Management Leadership

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Lambert started at Merrill in 1992. He held roles including sales manager and resident director, and became president for Bank of America Chicago in 2016. The company named Rita Sola Cook as his replacement in that role, responsible for connecting banking and investment resources across the company and Chicago region.

Root will become division executive for the Midwest, which Lambert currently covers. He recently served as market executive for Charlotte, North Carolina, where Bank of America is based. Root, who joined Merrill in 1995, started his career as a financial adviser in Punta Gorda, Florida, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The rest of the Merrill leadership team will remain the same, including the executives of the other divisions:

  • Steve Alch, division executive for the Southeast
  • Jeff Markham, division executive for the West
  • Carole Wentz, division executive for Texas Mountain South
  • Eric Schimpf, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisory

Chief Operating Officer Kirstin Hill will also stay in her current role, as will Don Plaus, head of private-wealth management, and Susan Axelrod, the chief supervisory officer.

Merrill has around 105 market executives across the country. They report to the division executives, who report to Sieg. The wealth-management business set records last quarter as soaring equity markets made legions of Americans newly rich.

But challenges remain for the group. The firm has lost employees who’ve formed their own firms or joined competitors. And the ongoing pandemic stalled training for new talent, part of the reason Bank of America’s overall roster of wealth advisers slumped to 18,855 in the third quarter of this year, down 8% from a year earlier.

“As tough as 2020 was, we think the 2020s will be a phenomenal decade for wealth management,” Sieg said. “We want leaders in place who will be able to help us serve clients and step up to that opportunity in the years ahead.”

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