Merrill names new private wealth head, shuffles more executives

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Merrill Wealth Management stepped up its reshuffling of senior executives in the wake of former president Andy Sieg’s departure for Citi

The Wall Street institution has promoted Greg McGauley to replace Don Plaus as the head of its Private Wealth Management, International and Institutional business, and moved other executives into key roles. 

All the changes are effective immediately, a Merrill spokesman said in an email Friday. The wirehouse announced the news on Friday internally to employees. 

The changes involve promotions that replace the departed Sieg’s own replacements, new Merrill presidents and co-heads Eric Schimpf and Lindsay Hans, in their former roles. They also signal the firm’s direction going forward post-Sieg: more integration with parent company Bank of America, expanding the Advisor Development Program to train entry-level advisors — which can help it make up for heavy losses of experienced advisors — and supporting aggressive organic growth. All the executives involved will report directly to Hans and Schimpf.

“With the appointments of these leaders, Merrill remains well-positioned to drive responsible growth and deliver for our clients, advisors, and partners,” Hans and Schimpf said in a joint statement Friday, adding that the new leaders had strong experience “in field leadership, serving clients and leading our growth and advisor training programs.” 

Read more: Sieg’s move could foreshadow big changes at both Merrill and Citi

McGauley, the former leader of the Northeast Region of Merrill Private Wealth Management, is effectively replacing both Plaus and Hans. Hans had been installed in Plaus’s role, but vacated that when she was promoted to co-lead the wirehouse. 

Plaus originally planned on retiring at the end of March but then delayed his departure to help steady the ship after Sieg’s sudden exit. There is no clear time yet when Plaus will retire. “Don Plaus and Greg will transition over the coming weeks,” the firm said in an email. 

Outgoing chief operating officer Kirstin Hill also plans to retire at some point this month. 

Brian Ludwick, Pacific Coast Division Executive at Merrill.

Bank of America

Filling in for Schimpf, Brian Ludwick is now Pacific Coast Division Executive and Erik Vatter has been named head of Advisor Development. Previously, Ludwick had been the Houston Market Executive since 2021.

Erik Vatter, the head of Advisor Development at Merrill.

Bank of America

Vatter has served “in a variety of leadership roles, including Resident Director, Market Executive, and national roles focused on advisor development, recruitment and our Resident Director strategy,” the firm said in an email. Vatter will also lead the Market Executive Leadership Academy and Practice Management Group. 

Lydia DiClemente, head of Merrill Banking Enablement and Merrill Financial Solution Advisors.

Bank of America

Lydia DiClemente is now head of Merrill Banking Enablement and Merrill Financial Solution Advisors, continuing in her former position of leading MFSAs but with the expanded banking responsibility, the firm said. 

“Lydia will also lead work to enhance how we deliver our banking capabilities to Merrill clients in partnership with April Schneider, head of Wealth Management Banking and Lending,” the firm said. DiClemente previously also led the Academy for Consumer Investments and Enterprise Licensing and Professional Designations. 

Ken Correa, the Head of Business and Client Development at Merrill.

Bank of America

Finally, Kenneth “Ken” Correa is “taking on an expanded role as Head of Business and Client Development,” the firm said.

Correa still leads National Recruiting, Top Advisor Recognition Programs and the National Resident Director Strategy, among other responsibilities.

He will also “lead our business development and client growth strategy and will partner with our products and services leadership teams to drive seamless integration and field adoption across Merrill,” the firm said. 

All the roles are promotions to the senior leadership team, except for Correa, who was already there. The spokesperson said it was “not yet announced” who would replace each of the newly promoted executives in their prior roles.