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Merrill underlines new growth strategy focused on rural America

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Merrill Lynch has turned its head to smaller, less populated regions in pursuit of company growth by focusing on 150 regions it recently dubbed "community markets."

Most of the markets are in rural areas about 30 miles away from the nearest Bank of America branch, the firm says.

Stanley Stephens has been named the market executive of one of the new regions, Texas West. It consists of seven offices in Abilene, Lubbock, Midland and Amarillo, Texas and was launched only a few weeks ago.

Stephens will be working closely with advisors within the region, he said by email, connecting them to resources, training, financial solutions and investment strategies. Additionally, Stephens will help provide access to banking capabilities, according to a press release announcing his promotion.

“Banking can be integral to financial planning and an important aspect of delivering a holistic approach to wealth management,” says Stephens. “In my experience, within client relationships, advisors can add value when they work across both sides of the balance sheet.”

Stephens started working at Merrill Lynch in 2010 as a financial advisor, which he says will give him perspective into what it is like to build a practice — and what is important to advisors.

Most recently, Stephens was the associate market executive for Merrill Lynch’s Fort Worth market, according to the firm. Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, Stephens worked in management at Goodyear, as well as serving in the U.S. army for four years.

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