Merrill Plays Musical Chairs in Midwest
The manager of Merrill Lynch’s Wisconsin complex of seven branches with about 40 advisors has been transferred to run the firm’s larger “Buckeye” complex in and around Columbus, Ohio, as part of a broader game of upwardly mobile management musical chairs.
Chris K. Eaton, who assumed the Wisconsin post less than three years ago, on Tuesday took the reins of the Columbus market, which has 12 branches and more than twice as many brokers as he supervised in his previous post.
He, in turn, replaced Brooke Thompson, who broadened her expanse in August by moving from Columbus to oversee Merrill’s six offices in the . Its main branch in Carmel alone has more than 90 advisors, according to a Merrill website.
Carma Wentzlaff, who was market executive for Indianapolis, has been “promoted” to a new role that Merrill expects to announce soon, said a person familiar with the plan. Merrill in March shuttered the greater Midwest division that encompassed its Indianapolis market and reached a “separation agreement” with former division head James Dickson after he took an earlier leave of absence.
Thompson confirmed her move and directed calls for specifics about her new territory and mandate to an associate, who declined to give details.
Eaton, who had worked in the Ohio market before taking the Wisconsin post, was traveling between offices, said a person answering his calls in Columbus. The Ohio market’s does not yet reflect his arrival.
Merrill spokeswomen did not respond to requests to explain the changes.
Former and current advisors in the Wisconsin market, which does not include the Eau Claire branch in the western part of the state, said they have grown accustomed to managerial changes since their region is small and often viewed as a training ground. Eaton’s two predecessors had similarly short terms before leaving for larger markets.
Tim Cunningham, Merrill’s associate market manager for Greater Chicago, has been given interim responsibility for Wisconsin, said two people at the firm. Cunningham was unavailable for comment, said a person answering his phone.
The Wisconsin vacancy occurs as some brokers in smaller markets have been jittery about how their branches will fare under new policies Merrill is testing to control costs while keeping a presence in in less affluent areas where its parent Bank of America does not have branches.