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Merrill Adds Teaming Bonus to 2014 Comp Plan

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch is planning to reward brokers who team up to help clients with financial planning.

As part of the Marrill's 2014 compensation plan, which was rolled out to some 14,000 advisors on Wednesday, the firm is adding a Merrill Lynch Client Experience Achievement Award, a new strategic growth award and enhancements to its succession planning program. The firm is leaving its payout grid unchanged.

The Client Experience Achievement Award will apply to advisors who are on a team where one member has a Certified Financial Planning or Certified Financial Analyst designation and has one member who has compled Merrill Lynch’s goals-based wealth management training. The team must also double revenue in five years with 2013 revenue as the baseline.

The award will provide a bonus of 10% of the team’s revenue growth over five years. It will be up to the team as to how the award is distributed among members. A spokeswoman for the firm, Susan McCabe, said that the firm was encouraging, but not mandating teaming.  Around 55% of advisors are currently working on teams, she said.

Many firms have added teaming incentives to their compensation plans in recent years. In 2012, for example, Merrill Lynch joined many of its competitors in offering a team grid award whereby qualifying teams would be paid out according to the highest producing team members’ cash grid level.

“If we’re to deliver holistic advice across both side of that balance sheet, you need wealth management, wealth structuring, cash management and credit capabilities,” she said. “That requires a team of experts.”

The firm also doubled its production credits on fees advisors get from managing and establishing trusts as part of an effort to capitalize on intergenerational wealth transfer, McCabe said.

Retiring advisors who are 55 and older will also see some additional incentives as part of the Client Transition program designed to help clients stay at the firm after their advisor retires. In 2014, outgoing advisors will be able to serve as a salaried senior consultant for two to four years prior to full retirement.  To take advantage of the transition plan, the advisor must have been on a team for three years prior to entering the program.

Earlier this week, UBS announced changes to its compensation plan as it looked to pay more to advisors who were building financial plans for ultra-high net worth clients. 

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Go Teams!


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