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Why Merrill Lynch bankers are leaving

Another day, another spate of departures from Merrill Lynch. This time they’re in Asia, but they could just as easily have been in Europe or the US. According to the Financial Times, Merrill has now lost 10 senior bankers in Europe, and headhunters say more departures are on the cards.

‘Everyone is trying to get out of Merrill,” says the European head of financial services at one international search firm. “They have three issues: compensation, culture and commitment.”

According to the headhunter, the situation at ML now is comparable to the situation at Morgan Stanley in 2005, when senior bankers like Joe Perella and Terry Meguid quit in quick succession.

“It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy,” he says. “The more senior people leave, the more that those staying behind get unsettled. There’s real uncertainty over how people will be paid, there’s a big culture shock, and there’s a question over Bank of America’s commitment to the European business as a result of the money it’s received from the US government.”

He adds: “They have also got some very good people and everyone is climbing all over them.”

Last month, Brian Moynihan the BofA banker who replaced Thain as head of ML, reportedly came to London to stabilize the situation and discourage further departures.

Today, the Wall Street Journal says Moynihan may be in line to replace Ken Lewis as head of the entire BofA/ML operation.

It seems unlikely that this will stop ML bankers rushing for the exits: Moynihan is not a Wall Street banker, but heralds from FleetBoston Financial Corp. He is also a lawyer by training. And as Chuck Prince demonstrated, lawyers and investment banks do not always mix.

Comments (13)

  1. Is Merill Lynch the new Morgan Stanley of 2005?

  2. you quote people are climbing over them…but where are the ML bankers going? Where are the ML escapees now?

  3. “Everyone is trying to get out of Merrill” and trying to get into ??

  4. @CSer. tapping your a$$ at CS for example.

    @Sarah. I think you meant Brian Mon-blabla cam down to London last month to reassure the staff. I guess not that many got reassured after all…shortly after Echlin and Grundy and someone else left. Good job.

  5. Thanks Shing. Moynihan came to London. Orcel is in London already.

    Sarah, Editor, eFinancialCareers Reply
  6. Deutsche? Credit Suisse

  7. The answer to where everyone is going is to the independents. Boutique investment banks are using this opportunity to aggressively build out. In equities, I am thinking of Redburn, Liberum, ICAP, BarCap, Macquarie, MF global, Cenkos to name a few. Evolution had cracking results yesterday, another one…these guys are mopping up the best people from the so called bulge bracket who have had enough of capped bonuses and a hostile culture…this will only continue. The same trend is happening in M&A

  8. I’m at ML. Had a wonderful time here until BoA came along. Since then everyone I know would love to leave so we don’t have to deal with low-quality, incompetent, idiotic BoA peers and their awful work ethic, drive and passion. Don’t put Oxbridge/Ivy graduates and illiterate Thames Valley 2.2ers in the same room and expect smoothness.

    Pushed out of ML Reply
  9. @Pushed out

    If you were any good you would have survived this recession – others have – instead BoA bailed you out – you should be shining the shoes of the Thames Valley 2.2ers.

  10. Perhaps, the future stands for ethical financing/banking industry. Those quiting are due to frustration, obviously unable to see their/their colleagues’ long nurture plans built up on speculative policies crashing. Nay, I am not pessimist; rather Iam realist. Let the world woke up to look out for the alternate of the present day decaying international financial system/policies. It is already late. why should we allow the repeat of 30 catastrophee. These are the days of quick communication/decision making. We are not in fools paradise. R V? The early the decision makers in the power mandarins realise, the better for the humanity.

    syed ilyas basha Reply
  11. @Pushed Out

    Looks like you shed some light on the real “culture clash” between the firms, with such a pretentious / elitist comment… especially since BofA is the only reason you still have a job!

  12. Yeah, let’s hear it for the Thames Valley 2.2ers!!

  13. This just demonstrates the sheer arrogance of ML, the same arrogance that brought them down. Are you in complete denial of the fact that you’re the ones who failed? Yet, you continually pull this ‘better than thou’ crap. And in the end, your failure (as well Lehman’s) just shows that your so-called top-notch Ivy league education wasn’t worth the $100k you paid as it did not stop you from the edge of bankruptcy.

    They should have let ML fail Reply

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