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Merrill adds new executive to boost advisor growth

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Coming off a record year for client acquisition, Merrill Lynch is aiming to keep up the pace with a new executive addition.

The firm promoted Craig Young to national business development executive, a newly created position designed to promote productivity among the company’s roughly 14,000 financial advisors.

“On any given week, there is a new idea or best practice that comes up somewhere in the country. One key to success is to take that and apply across all 105 markets that we operate,” says Andy Sieg, head of president of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Young was previously the market executive for the firm’s market in Westchester-Greenwich, Connecticut (Merrill’s markets are the equivalent of other firm’s complexes). Sieg cited Young’s experience working with advisors as a key reason he was tapped for the new position.

“For this role, it is easy at 20,000 feet to talk about consistency across 105 markets. But if you haven’t been a successful market executive, it’s challenging to have a feel for the texture of the role and to make a quick impact,” Sieg says.

The firm added 40,000 new accounts last year and hit a record $3 trillion in client balances.
January 15

As part of his responsibilities, Young will oversee wirehouse programs such as its Advisor Growth Network, a peer-to-peer group in which brokers can share business tips and best practices.

Merrill Lynch’s thundering herd has been on a growth tear, spurred on in part by compensation changes introduced in recent years. Advisors brought in more than 40,000 net new households in 2019, a 25% increase from 2018, according to the firm’s fourth-quarter earnings report.

As part of his new responsibilities, Craig Young will oversee Merrill Lynch’s Advisor Growth Network, a peer-to-peer group in which brokers can share business tips and best practices.

Seventy-percent of veteran advisors at the firm had their best year ever in 2019, according to the company. Productivity per advisor rose to $1.082 million for the year, from $1.034. More than 3,700 advisors topped $1 million in production and more than 100 generated $5 million or more in revenue.

Young’s tenure at Merrill — he’s been at the wirehouse since 2015 — overlaps with this boost in productivity.

Young has held management positions in Los Angeles and Pasadena, California, before moving to the East Coast. He also currently serves as a member of the Bank of America Black Executive Leadership Council and chairman of the Merrill Lynch African American Leadership Council.

A Merrill spokesman declined to specify the number of advisors Young previously oversaw in the firm’s Westchester and Greenwich market.

For his part, Sieg emphasized his performance and record helping advisors grow their businesses.

“One of the reasons to pick Craig is that I think he will very quickly get us focused on ways to drive change toward consistency,” Sieg adds.

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