BofA Requires Bankers To Seek More Face Time From Clients

Nov 15 2012 | 12:31pm ET

Bank of America's investment bankers have been ordered to meet in person with their hedge fund clients and others at least 20 times a month, as the firm seeks to bring in more revenue from trading.

The order went out in September from global equities distribution chief Soofian Zuberi, who told his 500 sales employees that more face time would help them better understand their clients' needs. Specialty equities sales staffers, including derivatives and prime brokerage team members, were ordered to meet in person with clients at least 30 times a month—or 1.5 meetings per business day—while those assigned to hedge fund and mutual fund traders were told to hold at least 20 meetings a month.

Meetings statistics will be posted internally, and those who fail to hit required numbers will have to deal with their managers at the end of the year.

The new order has led to serious grumbling at BofA, Bloomberg News reports, and, coming in advance of bonus season, has led some employees to exaggerate their meeting logs. And, of course, it's led to much unhappiness, as salesmen assigned to traders in particular complain that they usually stay parked at their desks during trading hours. Others complain that, at the same time Zuberi issued his order, BofA, in a cost-cutting move, has made a bigger issue of employees sticking within entertainment guidelines that limit them to spending $150 per person for dinner, $75 for lunch and $30 for breakfast. Those who exceed those limits have been asked to reimburse the bank, Bloomberg reports.

And to what end? Possibly not much, according to one hedge fund manager.

"It's not the number of meetings, it's sitting there and coming up with a compelling idea that makes me want to feed you that commission," QAM's Sarah Quinlan told Bloomberg Television. "You will be out with the clients who don't actually have any money to spend; you'll find the dead body down the street and say, 'Let's go do dinner.'"

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