by Carole Berndt, Global Corporate Banking, Head of Global Treasury Solutions EMEA, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and Ivo Distelbrink, Global Corporate Banking, Head of Global Treasury Solutions Asia Pacific, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
It is now almost two years since the merger between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch. What was the initial market response, and what has the reality been?
When the merger was first announced, many people took quite a cynical view of the new organisation. In particular, they questioned the logic of an entity formed of two companies with such different cultures and focus, and found it difficult to identify potential synergies.
In today’s market, with significant commoditisation of treasury management products, a bank’s differentiation is defined less by the products it delivers than in the approach it takes to delivering them from providing solutions to servicing.
Bank of America had been very US-centric in the recent past, despite several attempts to expand internationally and attract a more diverse global client base. Its strength, however, was in the scope, depth and resilience of its core transaction banking capabilities. In Asia, for example, the bank maintained branches in every major country with direct access to domestic clearing systems, both high and low value, to support the needs of clients across the region. Yet the bank was not actively promoting or expanding this service offering. Merrill Lynch, on the other hand, had developed considerable global expertise and leadership over many years, distinguishing itself through the depth and seniority of its client relationships with the world’s leading corporations and financial institutions, and governments.
Bank of America’s strength in transaction processing, together with Merrill Lynch’s track record in building advisory relationships based on long-standing client partnerships, quickly proved a powerful amalgamation. The combined organisation is able to deliver a far richer global service to our US clients and similarly, provide a unique value proposition to European and Asian corporates who would not necessarily have been attracted to Bank of America’s services in the past.