Lunchtime links: Merrill's wealth arm tries to renew its appeal

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Merrill Lynch's broker ranks look decidedly slimmer than before its merger with Bank of America - tumbling from 18,000 to 15,000 at the end of June. But now it wants to attract talent back.

The Financial Times reports that Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management is offering greater incentives than ever to join its ranks, with sign on bonuses reaching 140% of top advisers' previous year's "production" with another 200% possible over five years if they hit their lofty targets.

"That's more than they've ever offered," gushed an anonymous recruiter. "It's huge."

Merrill wants to add 300-450 new staff through this latest recruitment drive and hopes the incentives will prove an adequate lure. One stumbling block, however, is that Morgan Stanley Smith Barney is offering an equal sign on bonus, with the potential to double this over a three to five year period.

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