Sallie Krawcheck, president of Bank of America Corp. (BAC)’s wealth-management division, narrowed her search to replace the head of the firm’s 15,500-person brokerage to deputies including Andrew Sieg and John Thiel, said two people with direct knowledge of the process.
Sieg runs the retirement services business at Charlotte, North Carolina-based Bank of America, and Thiel is responsible for the private bank catering to high-net-worth individuals. The executives are among about four candidates vying to replace Lyle LaMothe, 49, according to the people, who asked for anonymity because the search is private.
Krawcheck’s choice may help solidify her relationship with top members of the brokerage, known as the “Thundering Herd” because of Merrill Lynch’s bull logo. Krawcheck joined Bank of America from Citigroup Inc. (C) in August 2009. The bank purchased Merrill Lynch & Co. earlier that year, triggering concern that some of the biggest producers might defect amid a culture clash.
“To pick someone who they can say has been more in the trenches at Merrill Lynch is a smart move,” said Howard Diamond, chief operating officer of Diamond Consultants LLC, a Chester, New Jersey-based executive-search firm. “If Bank of America does the little things and acknowledges the Merrill history, that goes a long way in an adviser’s mind.”
Krawcheck, 46, told advisers last week in a town hall meeting not to expect an announcement soon as she wanted to be “extremely thoughtful” about selecting their new leader, said the people. LaMothe said March 4 he’s retiring to pursue personal interests and is scheduled to leave in May.
The search hasn’t concluded and two regional heads who reported to LaMothe are also being considered for the job, said one of the people. William Lorenz is director of the U.S. Southeast area of brokers and Donald Plaus runs the Northeast.
“We’re fortunate to have a deep bench of talented senior managers in the organization to consider for this important role and we’re being thoughtful and diligent in the process,” said Susan Thomson, a spokeswoman for the bank.
Sieg and Thiel both have roots in Merrill Lynch, which is an important qualification for the brokerage’s next leader, the people said. LaMothe joined Merrill in 1987 as a financial adviser in San Bernardino, California, and held several supervisory jobs before being promoted to head of U.S. wealth management in 2009.
Sieg joined Merrill Lynch in 1992 as an analyst in the firm’s private-client group. He reported to Krawcheck while running a wealth-management unit at Citigroup and was hired by her to join Bank of America in 2009. Thiel began at Merrill Lynch in 1989 as a financial adviser in Tampa, Florida.
The brokerage is the biggest single contributor to Krawcheck’s business, with almost 80 percent of the division’s $16.7 billion in 2010 revenue coming from the adviser group. The unit posted a 4 percent increase in revenue last year to $13.1 billion, or about $854,000 per adviser.
Krawcheck told investors this month that her long-term target for revenue growth in the wealth-management division is 6 percent to 7 percent per year. Chief Executive Officer Brian T. Moynihan has said he expects the unit will help fuel growth at Bank of America, the largest U.S. lender by assets.
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