Merrill Lynch Bankers Just Want To Live, Damn It!

They (still) can't deal with Bank of America's freaky ass rules.

And don't get them started on this guy.

Merrill Lynch bankers (of which there are becoming fewer and fewer each day!) who survived the merger with Bank of America have had, by now, quite a long time to get used to the new BofA way of doing things. But 7 years after Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke put a gun to Ken Lewis's head and said "You're gonna buy this bank or you're gonna buy a new pair of kneecaps," legacy Merrill employees' irritation with their new overlords is still fresh as a flesh wound. Management breathing down their necks, using that stupid "Bank of America Merrill Lynch" name, time cards?? They can't work like this! Just ask them, they'll tell you!

Many Merrill bankers, used to operating in regional fiefdoms, have long been annoyed at Bank of America’s stricter oversight of their business decisions like hiring and compensation, said people familiar with the matter. A few years ago, Mr. Montag supported an idea to call his units “Merrill Lynch” rather than their current title, “Bank of America Merrill Lynch,” people close to the situation said. Some bankers thought the Merrill Lynch brand would be more appealing to some clients. Mr. Moynihan, who disagreed, won out. Bank of America’s more regimented culture has manifested itself in various ways. Senior bankers have chafed at a requirement that they fill out time sheets documenting how they spend each hour, current and former employees said. The bank has also cut back on leveraged loans due to tougher regulatory scrutiny, even while some rivals pressed ahead.

And the friction doesn't start and end with rank and file employees.

Tom Montag, [now] president of global banking and markets, joined Bank of America when it bought Merrill, though he had been at Merrill only briefly at the time. People at the firm said he presents a personality contrast to Mr. Moynihan, a detail-oriented workhorse who isn’t known to be gregarious. Mr. Montag spent much of his Goldman career in Japan, has been known to sing karaoke at work functions and frequently walks the trading floor to chat up employees, people who have worked with him said. The two executives aren’t personally close, people familiar with the matter said.

It's enough to make everyone want to quit, assuming they're not firedfirst. is the only large U.S. bank to post a decline in revenue from trading, investment banking and related activities for the first half of this year. The bank has lost ground in areas it has identified for expansion, such as mergers and acquisitions. Recently, more managing directors in the investment bank have departed than at rivals J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Citigroup Inc. combined.

We're just glad Stan O'Neal isn't around to see this.

BofA Merrill Confronts Austerity [WSJ]

Programming Note: This is your daily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/reminder that in addition to the indignities listed above, Merrill Lynch employees (AKA Bank of America employees) cannot read missives like this because Dealbreaker is still blocked by the firm. Whether this is because Bank of America hates free speech and therefore, AMERICA, or Brian Moynihan can't take another distraction during the work day is unclear. In any event: FREE DEALBREAKER.

Earlier: Layoffs Watch ’15: Bank Of America Thinking You Can’t Teach An Old Bull New Tricks; Layoffs Watch ’15: Bank of America Is Bidding ‘A Couple Hundred’ Bankers Adieu


Bank Of America Hoping To Fire Thousands Of Employees In Record Time

Remember Project New BAC, i.e. Bank of America's plan to transform itself from Ken Lewis's house of fun, where everyone went home happy but the concept of making money was less of a focus than keeping the good times coming, to an institution that did things like post profits? The bank has said previously that PNBAC "will result in $8 billion in annual savings by 2015—$5 billion from the first phase and $3 billion from a second phase" and while it stands by those figures and remains committed to cutting as many employees as it takes, some people would like them to be a bit snappier about it. Bank of America is accelerating a broad cost-cutting plan and has set a target of shedding 16,000 jobs by year's end—cuts that would see the company relinquish its title as U.S. banking's largest employer. The proposed year-end total of 260,000 would be the lowest count since 2008 and likely give Bank of America a smaller workforce than JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, or Wells Fargo...Chief Executive Brian Moynihan is trying to speed the company's transformation into a smaller and more efficient operation as he tries to persuade investors that expenses can be adjusted to compensate for revenue lost to new regulations, an uneven economy and shaky markets. Since becoming CEO in 2010, he has shifted away from a nationwide expansion strategy embraced by his predecessors Hugh L. McColl Jr. and Kenneth D. Lewis, and shed many of the businesses that he considers to be nonessential...Hitting the new staffing target would fulfill a year early Mr. Moynihan's pledge to slash the bank's workforce by approximately 30,000. "If they want to make any headway toward improving profitability," said Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. senior banking analyst Todd Hagerman, "they need to accelerate the timeline." Bank Of America Ramps Up Job Cuts [WSJ]

No One Told Ken Lewis Shareholders Needed To Know About Merrill's Massive Losses, Okay?

Remember in 2008, when Ken Lewis was all, “Oooh, wait, I don’t know about this Merrill Lynch thing, it looks kinda bad, I don’t think I want to buy it anymore, I’m nervous [bites nails, shifts weight from one foot to the other like he has to pee]” and tried to back out of the deal? And Hank Paulson threatened to stuff him in a meat locker if he did so Lewis said okay, fine, I’ll buy it and then did, without mentioning anything to shareholders about Merrill's impending losses? Well 1) People are still upset about it but 2) Ken was under the impression shareholders were on a need to know basis. Top executives at Bank of America Corp did not tell shareholders just prior to a 2008 vote on its purchase of Merrill Lynch & Co that losses were mounting and expected to weigh down earnings for years, papers filed in private shareholder litigation show. But the bank and former Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis said in their own court papers that they should not be liable to shareholders who claimed to have lacked information they needed to vote on the once $50 billion merger. Lewis also said he had been advised by the bank's law firm and chief financial officer that no disclosure was necessary. No further questions. BofA masked Merrill loss before 2008 vote: filings [Reuters]