Bofa client-meet­ing quota to vex in­vest­ment bankers

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -

WASH­ING­TON

Bank of Amer­ica Corp sales­peo­ple as­signed to the world’s big­gest stock port­fo­lio man­agers were given new or­ders by their boss in Septem­ber: at­tend at least 30 meet­ings a month with clients, or else.

That works out to 1.5 gath­er­ings each busi­ness day, which riled the staff and spurred some to ex­ag­ger­ate their meet­ing logs to avoid miss­ing goals ahead of bonus sea­son, said two peo­ple with di­rect knowl­edge of the mat­ter.

They asked for anonymity be­cause the new pol­icy isn’t pub­lic. The 30-meet­ing quota is for eq­ui­ties sales staff mem­bers, in­clud­ing those who han­dle spe­cialty lines such as de­riv­a­tives and prime-bro­ker­age. Their job is to pitch in­vest­ment ideas and de­liver re­search to an­a­lysts and man­agers at in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing BlackRock Inc and SAC Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment LLC. The man­date from Soofian Zu­beri, the Mer­rill Lynch vet- eran pro­moted to head of global eq­ui­ties dis­tri­bu­tion in May, shows the pres­sure Wall Street firms are un­der to take a big­ger slice from the shrink­ing pie of trad­ing fees. Some work­ers re­gard Zu­beri’s tar­gets as un­rea­son­ably high, the peo­ple said.

“What he’s do­ing is point­ing out that per­sonal re­la­tion­ships bring in rev­enue,” said Brad Hintz, an an­a­lyst at San­ford Bern­stein & Co. “He’s set a bar that is prob­a­bly a lit­tle too high; this is say­ing you’re hav­ing client lunches five days a week and din­ner about three days a week. Still, that has value, it forces sales guys to get out there.”

Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Brian T. Moyni­han, 53, has called Bank of Amer­ica’s trad­ing units crit­i­cal to re­viv­ing profit at the Char­lotte, North Carolina-based lender. The firm had $3.7 bil­lion in eq­ui­ties trad­ing rev­enue last year — about 4 per­cent of to­tal net rev­enue.

Ac­cord­ing to the peo­ple, Zu­beri told his sales team of more than 500 work­ers in a memo that they need to see clients in per­son more of­ten, rather than re­ly­ing on e-mail and tele­phones. Bank of Amer­ica could im­prove its mar­ket share by gain­ing a deeper un­der­stand­ing of client needs, the peo­ple said.

The 30-meet­ing quota is for eq­ui­ties sales staff mem­bers, in­clud­ing those who han­dle spe­cialty lines such as de­riv­a­tives and prime-bro­ker­age. Their job is to pitch in­vest­ment ideas and de­liver re­search to an­a­lysts and man­agers at in­sti­tu­tions in­clud­ing BlackRock Inc and SAC Cap­i­tal Man­age­ment LLC.

Zu­beri also told work­ers as­signed to traders at hedge funds and mu­tual funds to tally 20 meet­ings each month, the peo­ple said. That’s oner­ous to some em­ploy­ees be­cause they don’t of­ten leave their desks dur­ing trad­ing hours, said one of the peo­ple.

The sta­tis­tics will be in­ter­nally listed so eq­ui­ties em­ploy­ees can see where they stand, Zu­beri told them in his Au­gust, the peo­ple said. Those who fail to make the quo­tas can ex­pect man­agers to ad­dress the short­falls at yearend meet­ings, the peo­ple said. Work­ers use Bank of Amer­ica’s cus­tomer-track­ing sys­tem to log meet­ings, the peo­ple said.

The eq­ui­ties sales chief “knows what it takes to get a client, knows how to put your hands around some­body’s throat and ask for the or­der,” said Bruce Fo­er­ster, pres­i­dent of South Beach Cap­i­tal Mar­kets and for­mer head of the global eq­ui­ties syn­di­cate at Lehman Broth­ers Hold­ings Inc. “I’m a big be­liever in face-to-face meet­ings so I can take the mea­sure of some­body that I want as a client.”

Zu­beri didn’t re­spond to voice mes­sages and e-mails seek­ing com­ment on his ini­tia­tive. Ker­rie McHugh, a Bank of Amer­ica spokes­woman, said the com­pany had no com­ment.

— PLUS NEWS

CAIRO: Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas, left, meets Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi.

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