UK - Merrill Lynch has held a top level summit with consultants to convince them that its troubled fund management arm has a viable future.
ML president Stan O’Neal and Merrill Lynch Investment Managers president and chief investment officer Bob Dole met consultants in London over breakfast for a question and answer session.
The firm – which managed £53.4bn of UK pension fund money as at December 2001 – has been hit by falling markets, a mass exodus of staff and poor returns.
Over the last two years the loss of pension fund clients has seen it fall from being the largest manager of UK scheme money to third, behind Legal & General Investment Management and Barclays Global Investors.
Senior consultants at Aon Consulting, Buck Consultants, Frank Russell, Gissings, Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow, Lane Clark & Peacock, Mercer Investment Consulting and Watson Wyatt are believed to have attended the summit breakfast.
One leading consultant who attended said that while the meeting was intended to reassure consultants, the presence of top US Merrill Lynch figures was a sign that the fund manager was “seriously in trouble”.
But an MLIM spokesman said: “We don’t see it as a crisis meeting. Stan O’Neal was in London, and he likes to talk to all the people that we work with.
“Compared to last year, we’ve increased our profit margin for the first three quarters of this year.”
MLIM’s pretax earnings for the year up to October 16 were $284m (£178.8m) – 7% up on the corresponding period last year.
PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloitte must break up their consultancy and audit businesses into distinct firms to provide greater focus on the "most challenging and objective audits", the competition watchdog has said.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has released its first batch of guidance setting out how the guaranteed minimum pension (GMP) conversion legislation may be used to resolve unequal payments.
This week's top stories include the government spending £800,000 on a Gogglebox advert and MPs writing to The Pensions Regulator about its engagement with the Railways Pension Scheme.