(Bloomberg) — Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s new training program for 3,000 fresh-faced brokers includes a ban on cold calls.
Participants will instead be directed to use internal referrals or LinkedIn messages, according to a person familiar with matter. The change is part of an overhaul of the more than three-year-long program that will be announced Monday, the person said, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been made public.
The unit of Bank of America Corp. first suspended trainees’ prospecting calls last year, when protocol breaches were discovered while employees were working from home.
“We are leaning much more heavily on leads and referrals from the broader company,” Merrill Lynch Wealth Management President Andy Sieg said in April. “There is also an opportunity to be much more modern in terms of the way we are reaching out to prospective clients.”
While cold calling has long been a rite of passage for trainee brokers across the industry, the changes are in part designed to boost the success rate of outreach attempts, and come at a time when many banks are increasingly targeting wealthy clients. Citigroup Inc. plans to “double down on wealth” and concentrate its efforts on international hubs popular among high earners.
At Bank of America, affluent clients’ account balances surged 31% to a record $3.5 trillion, lifted by a buoyant stock market, and it added more than 7,000 households in the first quarter.
Dow Jones reported on the program’s revamp earlier Monday.
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