Not all the news coming out of Bank of America these days is about layoffs. In fact, as part of its overall commitment to beef up the Merrill Lynch Edge Financial Solutions Advisors (FSA) Group, it has been on something of a hiring spree, adding a total of 230 advisors in New Jersey and central New England.
FSAs provide advice and guidance to customers with $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets, or those whose discretionary assets fall below the bar set by most Wealth Management financial advisors who cater to the $250,000 and up clientel. Many set that figure at $1 million and up.
In the past nine months, BofA has hired 180 Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisors throughout New Jersey, including 155 FSAs including 155 FSAs stationed in the Merrill Edge Advisory Center in Hopewell, and 26 in banking centers across northern and central New Jersey. Another 50 FSAs were hired in Central New England, including Boston and Hartford.
"FSAs offer financial solutions and guidance to what are called our preferred and small business customers," says Matt Gellene, Director, East Division Executive Financial Solutions Advisor, Preferred and Small Business Banking, which covers New Hampshire to Florida.
In an interview with eFinancialCareers, Gellen, who's been with Bank of America for 20 years on the investment side, said the bank hopes to hire 518 or more FSAs by end of the year. "Right now we have 325 Financial Solutions Advisors in Bank of America branches across the nation from Boston and New York to California," says Gellen, who added that he hopes to have some in Florida later in the year.
Besides BofA branches, FSAs will also be in three call centers in Hopewell, New Jersey, Jackson, Florida and Chandler, Arizona, which is near Phoenix.
As for the basic skills Gellen is looking for in an FSA, they should have at least two to three years client facing sales experience in the financial sector, hold Series 7 and 66 licenses and be familiar with the problems and solutions facing the mass affluent population.
"We've been recruiting folks from competitors as well as wire house programs and financial institutions where advisors have their licenses and are looking to further their careers," said Gellen. "About 40% of our FSAs have come from within Bank of America."
Ultimately, Gellen said BofA hopes to have over a thousand FSAs in banking centers from coast to coast, with the focus on those regions where Bank of America already has a foothold such as the East and West Coasts, Texas and parts of the Midwest.
Although it's called Merrill Edge, the division is part of Bank of America and its online trading platform not Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.