UPDATE: Merrill Names Racquel Oden to Head Flagship NYC Office
(Updated in fifth paragraph to note Oden’s replacement, Cheri Lytle.)
Merrill Lynch has promoted Racquel Oden, its head of training and advisor strategy, to run its sprawling Fifth Avenue Financial Center in New York, a spokeswoman confirmed Monday morning.
In her first role directly managing a sales force, Oden replaces Jeffrey Tucker, who last month was elevated to run Merrill’s New York metro division.
Oden was introduced to the more than 200 advisors at the Fifth Avenue branch on Monday. Two associates said she could not comment immediately because she was in conference with Tucker.
“She is a bright woman and very accomplished, and I’m guessing she was basically told by the bank to take the position to ensure her continuing climb up the bank leadership ladder,” said a former New York regional executive.
Cheri Lytle, who was head of human resources at Merrill Lynch wealth management, will replace Oden as head of advisor strategy and development, according to a memo circulated internally on Monday. Lytle will report to Riley Etheridge, head of client segments and advisor development, the memo said. Lytle’s new position is a crucial one at a time when big banks are reshaping the way brokers sell investment products and services —converting them from stock and bond jockeys to “holistic” wealth managers pushing bank and investment products — and trying to recruit millennials to replace an aging workforce.
Oden joined Merrill in February 2010 as head of advisor strategy and development, overseeing its three-year Practice Management Development core training program, its Banking Center FA program and its Team FA program that positions summer interns and trainees on existing teams.
The core training program was in flux when she began and the ranks of Merrill’s experienced advisors were falling following the financial crisis and the firm’s takeover by Bank of America. The forces have replenished recently, in large part through graduates of the training programs. Merrill employed just over 14,500 brokers at the end of last year, up almost 3% from 14,085 one year earlier.
From 2002 to early 2010 Oden worked at UBS Wealth Management Americas, advancing from chief of staff to UBS’s president to roles as senior vice president of client services, head of “acquisition strategy” and managing director in charge of internal product sales.
A political science major in her undergraduate years at James Madison University, Oden took her first Wall Street job as an associate in equity trading at Morgan Stanley in 1997, according to her LinkedIn profile. She also has an MBA from Hampton University.