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Merrill Lynch refocuses WM business with LatAm as top target

Merrill Lynch refocuses WM business with LatAm as top target

Global wealth manager Merrill Lynch has restructured its overseas wealth management business with a new focus on a core group of Latin American countries.

The move is a result of a three-year review following Bank of America's sale of Merrill Lynch’s international wealth management offices to Swiss private-banking firm Julius Baer in 2012. The sale left a number of US-based advisers still serving international clients, a spokesman for the firm said.

The private bank will create a specialized team of financial advisers to service clients in 29 countries, with a primary focus on Canada and Latin America.

New client criteria

Citywire Americas has learned it has targeted Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Panama and Canada as core markets for this new proposition.

Within this new structure, advisers will continue to be based in the US and the group will still service clients with at least $1 million, but new clients will have to have at least $2.5 million in investable assets to open an account.

Investors in Venezuela, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Argentina, Cayman, Honduras, Bahamas will have to have at least up to $5 million to open an account. It is also understood that clients will also have to visit their advisers a minimum of one time in the USA per year.

The firm has set January 29 as its deadline for existing clients to raise their account to $1 million in order to qualify under its new set of client criteria.

International opportunties

In a memo seen by Citywire Americas, John Thiel head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, said the group would be using its Private Banking & Investment Group as a blueprint in building up its international business.

Merrill Lynch launched its Private Banking & Investment Group in 2000 to service clients with $10 million or more in investable assets, using an existing crop of advisers to specialize in catering to existing and new HNW clients.

‘That same opportunity now exists internationally,’ said Thiel. ‘We’ll concentrate our efforts in those countries where we can responsibly serve clients through a goals-based wealth management approach and where we can deliver the enterprise together with our partners from across the bank.’

The move to revamp and target Latin America comes despite players like Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) reducing its international business by closing key offices in Miami and Houston.

RBC also sold its Swiss private banking arm to Swiss group SYZ earlier this month and the Geneva-based private bank is on the hunt for further deals south of the US to make its mark.

In 2014, Bank of America Merrill Lynch handled over $1.9 trillion in client assets. To see where it sits with the leadings wealth managers worldwide .

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