Merrill Lynch recruited a team from Morgan Stanley that managed $1.2 billion in client assets.

The nine-person team, led by Bruce Munster, generated $5.8 million in annual revenue while at Morgan. They join Merrill’s elite Private Banking & Investment Group in Century City, Calif., where they report to Michael Rogers, managing director.

A top producer, Munster was recently featured as No. 7 in On Wall Street’s annual ranking of the Top 40 Advisors Under 40.

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Would you end a contentious meeting with your supervisors by mooning them? And then expect to keep your job – and get a big bonus? That’s what happened with Bank of America broker Jason Selch. Here Is the City has the story.

Selch worked for Wagner Asset Management in Chicago. In 2005, the company merged with Columbia Asset Management, which is a subsidiary of BofA. Selch was reportedly concerned that his compensation package would change, and he was upset that his friend and co-worker Chris O’Dea was fired after balking at a change in his own compensation package. So Selch burst into the office where Columbia execs were meeting and asked if he had a non-compete clause, a query which indicated that he could go work for the competition. Then Selch dropped trou, mooned the executives, told them to never come back to Chicago, and left the room.

The second-most shocking thing about this case, besides the fact the Selch mooned the bigwigs, is that his immediate supervisor fought to keep him on with only a warning, and briefly succeeded.  But the boss was overruled by Brian Banks, CEO of Columbia, who said that what Selch did was too “egregious” to keep him on.

Selch then sued to get his job back, and to get a bonus he missed out on that would have vested if he has survived at the job, arguing that firing him after giving him a warning was a break of contract. A federal appeals panel recently dismissed Selch’s claim, saying that his mooning was “insubordinate, disruptive, unruly and abusive.”

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Matthew Koder, former UBS AG executive, left the company this year to run Bank of America-Merrill Lynch’s Asia Pacific banking department, and he made himself known immediately at his new headquarters — in a big way. Reuters reports that workers in the Hong Kong office who arrived late saw Post-It notes from Koder himself, sardonically wishing them a “good afternoon.”

He explained to Reuters that “people in this industry should feel very lucky to be in this industry, particularly now when you look at structural unemployment around the world,” saying that “we should just feel fortunate.”

Koder has promised from the beginning to work hard, and asked others to do the same. “Like I said at my first Monday morning meeting, I’m prepared to do anything and everything that I’ll ask anyone in the team to do,” he said. “All I ask is for people to do as much as I do, no more than that.”

He’s certainly making big changes so far at the BofA branch. One of his employees, who recently left the firm, said that under Koder “you see people in capital markets showing up two hours earlier than they used to,” and that “you get emails and phone calls from [Koder] at any hour.”

 While the long-term effects of Koder’s leadership have not yet taken effect, Reuters says that “in Asian debt capital market issuance, BofA has this year bounced back to third place, from 7th last year, in the G3 currency”, and it’s now fifth in “equity capital market underwriting,” which has increased from all the way to 10th last year.

Written by Lisa Swan

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Does Bank of America need to sell the thundering herd? CNBC’s John Carney reports that the big bank is facing both inside and outside pressure to make a “dramatic change,” and that change could include selling Merrill Lynch, the brokerage house the bank bought during the financial crisis.

Some of the issues Bank of America is facing relate to another acquisition it made in recent years – Countrywide Financial. BofA announced that it could have over $20 billion in mortgage expenses in the second quarter, much due to mortgages from Countrywide. In addition, regulations such as the Dodd-Frank Act and the Basel Rule are asking banks to have higher capital. To top it all off, the bank’s stock is down 27 percent in 2011, and dividends can only be paid at just a penny a share until the capital issue has been improved.

That is where possibly selling Merrill Lynch comes in. Carney says that “something must be done to repair the ongoing damage to Bank of America’s shares,” and wonders if “selling or spinning off Merrill” could “do the trick.” The CNBC writer suggests that Merrill Lynch “may be valued more highly outside of Bank of America than inside.” Carney claims that at least three insiders he talked to are “weighing” selling at least part of the bank.

Written By Lisa Swan

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 On Tuesday, Bank of America Chief Executive Officer, Brian Moynihan, announced a reorganization of the company’s management team.  These management changes are to align the company’s operating units with its three core customer groups: individuals, companies, and institutional investors.  Brian Moynihan has appointed David Darnell and Tom Montag as co-chief operating officers, accountable for all of the company’s operating units.

 Brian Moynihan announced Tuesday, the departures of Sallie Krawcheck, head of wealth management, and Joseph Price of consumer banking.

 Tom Montag will oversee the investment banking and operations that serve companies and institutional investors. 

David Darnell is responsible for those businesses serving individual customers and clients including deposit, card, home mortgage, wealth management, small business, and related products and services. 

“De-layering and simplifying at the scale in which we operate requires difficult decisions,” said Brian Moynihan. 

Removing layers of management and simplifying the organization reflect some of the primary objectives of the Project New BAC.  Project New BAC recently started in April 2011 and significant expense reductions will continue in the coming weeks.  Phase II of the New BAC will begin in October and conclude in March 2012.

Read full press release here

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“I like buying on sale,” Warren Buffett, Berkshire’s chief executive officer and head of investments, said in a recent television interview with Charlie Rose to be broadcast on PBS. 

Berkshire Hathaway acquired 9.7 million shares of the biggestU.S.home lender during the 2nd quarter.  These purchases represent an increase of 2.8 percent ofBerkshire’s holdings of WFC.

The purchases of the Wells Fargo stock cost Berkshire Hathaway an estimated $ 277 million, according to an article in Investment News.

“Bank of America Corp. has received a vote of confidence from legendary investor Warren Buffett and sealed an agreement for his company, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. to inject $ 5 billion into the bank in a private offering,” according to an article in On Wall Street. 

Buffett initiated the decision to invest in Bank of America, according to Buffet’s prepared statement. 

Buffett is impressed with Bank of America’s profit-generating abilities, and how they are acting aggressively to put their challenges behind them.  “Bank of America is focused on their customers and serving them well.  That’s what customers want, and that’s the company’s strategy.” 

Bank ofAmericaChief Executive Brian Moynihan said in a statement, “I remain confident that we have the capital and liquidity we need to run our business. At the same time, I also recognize that a large investment by Warren Buffett is a strong endorsement in our vision and our strategy.” 

 

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Bank of America may need to consider selling Merrill Lynch.

According to an article by John Carney at cnbc.com, “The bank recently disclosed that expenses related to soured home loans could total $20.4 billion in the second quarter.  The bank has racked up legal and settlement costs to resolve demands that it buy back soured mortgages sold into securitizations, many of which were originally made by Countrywide Financial, which the bank acquired in 2008.”

Bank of America is considering selling off some assets, including its brokerage Merrill Lynch.  The bank is also considering spinning Merrill off as a separate company.  No specific deal is on the table, yet insiders think that Bank of America will have difficulty finding a buyer to purchase Merrill Lynch at an acceptable price. 

Bank of America’s dividend is at the financial crisis level of one cent per share.  Bank of America’s stock is down 27 percent for the year.  At this time, regulators will not allow Bank of America to boost its dividend until its capital position improves.

Something needs to be done to repair Bank of America’s shares.  Could selling Merrill Lynch work?

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Bank of America was rated the number one wealth management firm for the second year in a row, according to an article in Investment News.  Bank of America had 1.9 trillion in Assets under Management with 4.2 % change from last year at year end 2010.

Morgan Stanley Smith Barney was rated the second wealth management firm with 1.6 trillion in assets under management.  UBS was rated number three with 1.6 trillion in assets under management.  Wells Fargo was rated the fourth wealth management firm with 1.4 trillion in assets under management.

According to an article in Investment News, “market gains helped boost assets managed by these banks by 11 percent last year with the top 20 overseeing a combined $ 11.1 trillion, Scorpio said.  The rate of net new money inflows declined on average by almost 19 percent from 2009 and many banks saw margins squeezed, according to Scorpio.”

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Bank of America has announced that they will hire 500 additional Financial Solutions Advisors (FSA) by year-end.  These FSAs represent Merrill Edge, the platform built to combine the banking strength of Bank of America and the investment strength of Merrill Lynch.  The FSAs will be located in select banking centers, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Washington D.C., Dallas & Charlotte.  The FSAs will serve Bank of America’s preferred customers that have between $ 50,000 and $ 250,000 of investable assets.  According to Bank of America, there are 8 million investors in this category and they have total assets worth more than $ 5 trillion.

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Merrill Lynch turns bullish on hiring brokers again.

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