Another Chink in the Armor

Merrill President Interviewed by Recruiter

Andy Sieg, Merrill Lynch President, created a lot of buzz with his recent one-hour podcast interview.  What I find interesting is that Mr. Sieg agreed to be interviewed by Mindy Diamond – an executive recruiter who has made hundreds or thousands of dollars (possibly 7 figures) recruiting out of Merrill Lynch.  What does this have to do with community banking and credit unions?  Quite a bit…..


Unpopular Opinions

If you read the comments, most people are slamming Andy and Mindy for this interview.  “Andy is spinning the Bank of America narrative” and “Mindy will recruit for anyone if enough money’s involved”. I have no opinion on Andy – never met him.  I have met Mindy a few times over the years – she and her husband seem to run a good financial advisor recruiting firm.

For me, it’s refreshing that a major broker-dealer CEO did an interview like this.  It never happens.  These guys have very tall walls around them and very few people are allowed inside.  Regardless of the motivations by both sides, I applaud Andy for doing something different and congratulate Mindy on landing the interview.  It would be great to see more top-level broker-dealer and bank c-suite giving formal interviews to people like Mindy – but I would not hold my breath until the next one happens.


All Big Banks Have a Problem

And that problem is; they are really BIG!  Many of us have good friends and /or relatives that work for a municipal government at some level.  Think about the bureaucracy and inefficiencies associated with most of our government.  Working for a big bank isn’t quite that bad, but it’s not far from it.  And the trend lines indicate it’s only going to get worse.  Bureaucratic environments where it’s difficult to get things done for your clients in a timely manner equate to cultural issues.  Big banks are full of exceptional people and outstanding leaders but until they fix the culture, they will continue having regretted attrition, which benefits our financial channel greatly.


The Opportunity

Andy Sieg knows Bank of America and Merrill Lynch are on the wrong path.  Merrill has been bleeding financial advisors for years and Bank of America is still Bank of America.  If all indicators pointed in a positive direction for Merrill, Andy is not doing this interview.

Community banks and credit unions that still serve the communities they are in at the highest levels, understand that the talent pool inside big banks and some super regionals is up for grabs.  And it’s not just happening to the employees.  The customers and clients of larger banks are increasingly frustrated with the constant movement of goalposts as well.  One day they have a Private Banker and the next they are calling an 800 number call center for help.  A very high percentage of Financial Advisors inside the “big firms” are looking.  They are looking for a partner that will not sacrifice culture for convenience that puts their clients first.  That probably sounds like your community bank or credit because it is.


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