Thiel, currently head of the private banking and investment group, will replace LaMothe, who is retiring on May 1 after 24 years, according to published reports. Thiel will retain both positions.
In an internal memo obtained by members of the media, Sallie Krawcheck, head of Global Wealth & Investment Management, said, “John possesses deep wealth-management and Merrill Lynch experience and has a strong commitment to our advisers, our clients and our culture.”
Thiel started at Merrill Lynch in 1989 as a financial adviser in Tampa, Fla. In 1995, he became part of Merrill’s advisory division leadership team. He then joined Merrill’s high net worth private banking business in 2000, a unit that now manages $160 billion in client assets.
As head of the wealth management unit, Thiel will be in charge of Merrill’s “Thundering Herd” (a nickname referring to the bull logo) of 15,695 brokers.
It is also being speculated that by having Thiel in charge of both the high-net-worth and wealth management businesses, Merrill Lynch may be seeking to integrate the units. According to the news reports, Thiel was given the position over another potential candidate, Andrew Sieg, who heads the retirement services operations (see “BofA Brings in New Heads for Retirement, Wealth Management“).