Four years after Bank of America acquired Merrill Lynch, the Charlotte bank's commercial banking division is helping refer nearly half of Merrill's new assets in its retirement benefits products, Bank of America said Tuesday.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
It's the latest example of the bank's increasing emphasis on cross-selling products between its corporate divisions, and demonstrates an apparent success in the sometimes strained relationship between bankers at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America.
The bank said Merrill Lynch added a record 6,000 financial benefit plans in 2012, totaling $24.3 billion in new assets. Clients of the commercial bank accounted for more than 60 percent of the new plans, and $10.6 billion of the assets.
That's up from $700 million in new assets from those clients in 2009, $3.6 billion in 2010, and $5 billion in 2011.
These benefit plans, served through Merrill Lynch, generally include 401(k), defined benefit, equity and non-qualified deferred compensation plans. The legacy Bank of America global commercial bank serves businesses with revenues of $50 million to $2 billion per year.
One example of a new corporate client taking on a benefit plan from Merrill is a hospital system in central North Carolina, senior vice president Ken Burton said.
"When Merrill Lynch was acquired by the bank, I always referred to it as synergy by addition," said Kevin Crain, head of institutional retirement and benefit services, in an interview with the Observer. "We can get introductions to corporations when it makes sense."
Merrill Lynch's benefit team is based in Hopewell, N.J., and has another corporate office in Jacksonville, Fla. It has a sales force across the country, including North Carolina, and has a team that works with the commercial bank in Charlotte, Crain said.
The commercial bank has a significant presence in Charlotte, Burton said.
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