Cold Calling Banned: Why the Merrill Lynch Change To Advisor Training Matters to You

If you are a financial advisor the decision by Merrill Lynch to end cold calling as part of their training process for new advisors is a massive disruption to your industry. Here is the article in the Wall Street Journal:


I did a short video on this yesterday morning after my initial read (The Merrill Move). Today I wanted to 'unpack' the most significant impacts this will have on the financial services industry.

This was a massive public relations coup.

Merrill, in effect, labeled all the other major players in financial services as cold callers with this move. They publicly, around the globe, said that they will not be allowing their new advisors to cold call as they build their business. Instead they will be working on internal referrals from Bank of America and #linkedin. The other big players and most of you just got left behind. Whether or not, they are really leaving the cold calling mindset behind is a different issue and is definitely something most prospective clients will not be aware of or think about. They are already being trained by Merrill.

If you are an individual advisor and/or the owner/partner at a regional firm...we should talk asap.


Don't assume they will do this badly.

One of the things I noticed, in conversations on and offline yesterday with advisors, was an initial reaction discounting the impact of this announcement. That is a massive mistake. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that a major financial services company is changing their complete training culture. That's right, their complete training culture. All of the bank's resources for training are going to be directed at #social via LinkedIn.

For you, or anyone else, to assume they are going to do this badly is foolish. Instead, you should be raising your own game and investing money and time into effective strategy on social for you and your company. Merrill will put millions into this and they will hire some of the best minds on social to make this happen. It will take time for them to get it right, but, they will get it right enough to seriously impact even a solo advisor's business.

They are coming for your customers on your best platform.

There is a simple reason that they have scrapped cold calling as a prospecting technique: it isn't effective. The research has been 100% clear on this for years and Merrill (and Bank of America) are a large enough institution that they will pay attention to results. They have been measuring success rates for new and experienced advisors for years and they are making this decision based upon cold, hard math.

If you think that their entire strategy as a multi-national, multi-billion dollar institution is going to be simple and bad...I feel sorry for you and your team. They are going to be coming for your clients where all the clients are: on social. If you aren't working a strategic #socialselling program (if you aren't working with my company and our partners at DLA Ignite the chances are high that you aren't) you need to get started right now.

Being 'on social' and having an account on LinkedIn that you share corporate drivel on (you know that boring and horrible pre-approved by compliance article) is going to doom you out of the gate. You need to learn how to do social strategically, making yourself the most trusted advisor online and off with your target markets and that doesn't happen 15 minutes a week or day. I thought you had more time until yesterday morning.

The good news.

There is a path to win on and offline in spite of Merrill coming to social with all their power and we teach and coach our clients on it every day (and have for decades). You need a partner that has been on your side of the table as an advisor and that also knows how to use your greatest resource (you and your team) as the ultimate weapon to dominate online no matter what the 'big boys' are doing. You are uniquely positioned to win big.

With the appropriate strategy, training and support, this can be an amazing opportunity for you. If you want to explore how I am approaching this with professionals like you all it takes is for you to reach out and start a conversation. Let's explore how to take your business to the next level.

Related: How Can I Secure Growth For My Business When I Can't Predict The Future?