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Merrill Plots Big Growth

Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group (PBIG) is expanding across the country by opening new offices and plans to boost its 400 private banker headcount by 50% over the next five years.

Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group(PBIG) is expanding across the country by opening new offices and plans to boost its 400 private banker headcount by 50% over the next five years. It is targeting clients with more than $10 million in assets and will increase incentive-based compensation for private bankers bringing in those clients. "We are trying to compete with theGoldman's [Sachs]and trust companies," said a Merrill insider.

Merrill will open additional offices in New York, Boston and Washington D.C. and increase the presence of private bankers in Oakland, San Diego and Phoenix. The firm will also grow its Houston, Seattle and Palm Beach offices.

This week PBIG is launching an office in midtown Manhattan at 623 Fifth Avenue and has snaggedSteve Schrokoas the resident director in charge. Schroko was previously head of the New York Family Wealth Group ofJP Morgan Private Bank. This will be the third PBIG office in New York.Jennifer Povlitz, head of PBIG, was traveling last week asPAMwent to press.

A JP Morgan spokesman saidJohn Duffy,head of northeast region JP Morgan Private Bank, is taking on Schroko's responsibilities in the interim.

Merrill Lynch also has private banking hubs across the U.S. including Century City, Calif., Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, Nashville, Tennessee, Dallas, Las Vegas, Greenwich Connecticut, Naples Florida, and San Francisco.

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