Merrill Realigns Advisor Coaching Unit Under Up-And-Comer Craig Young
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management is shifting oversight of its 30-employee practice management consulting group to national business development executive Craig Young, according to an internal memo from Merrill Wealth President Andy Sieg.
“Craig and his organization have helped advisors and their teams identify growth opportunities and share best practices, making the business development organization a great fit for the PMCG,” Sieg wrote. “The Chief Operating Office will remain focused on improving the advisor and client experience, including efforts to increase capacity, enhance digital capabilities, and strengthen our partnerships across the enterprise,” he added.
The change further elevates Young, who joined Merrill as associate market manager in 2015 and ascended to Sieg’s inner circle last year. Young also chairs the firm’s African American Leadership Council and sits on its corporate parent Bank of America’s Black Executive Leadership Council.
In his business development role, Young, 44, already has responsibility for designing programs to further Sieg’s carrot-and-stick approach to building assets and new client accounts through pay, incentive trips and recognition clubs, and coordinating Merrill’s existing Advisor Growth Network, Market Executive Strategy Council and FA Advisory Council to Management.
Under Hill, the practice management group had recently launched the “Elite Growth Practice” program which includes tools, action plans and “learning notebooks” to help spur the account and asset-growth incentives and demerits that Merrill introduced in 2018.
Sona Haratunian will remain the interim leader of the practice management consulting group and report to Young, according to Sieg’s memo.
“Our practice management consulting group is critically important, as they are deeply committed to helping advisors maximize opportunities within their practices and best serve clients,” Young said in a statement provided by a Merrill spokesman.
A former college football coach, Young has 14 years of industry experience—including his first nine years as a registered rep in Houston at Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Robert W. Baird, according to his BrokerCheck history
The change adds a new feather in Young’s cap, while Hill’s role has also been evolving over the past year.
In March, Hill added responsibility for the firm’s 6,000 client associates and 300 client relationship managers who oversee them to her purview, according to a separate memo. Since May 2020, she has been overseeing a program to provide additional training for those client associates, including helping some transition to full-time advisors.
But Merrill also last year shifted reporting lines for its 43-month Financial Advisor Development Program from COO oversight, as part of a broad revamp of its training program rolled out in September.
Eric Schimpf, a 25-year Merrill veteran, who leads the program along with consumer banking executive Matt Gellene, now reports directly to Sieg.
Merrill’s training program’s account growth efforts suffered a setback last year after the firm discovered that neophyte brokers working from home during the pandemic had committed Do-Not-Call violations while prospecting.
As a result of those violations, Merrill paused–and continues to pause–its trainees’ cold call prospecting. The firm has pledged since January to unveil a refashioned program for aspiring advisors that focuses on using LinkedIn and methods other than cold calling to build a practice.
(Updated in seventh and eighth paragraphs to provide additional details of Hill’s responsibilities.)