What if I use a Merrill Lynch broker to buy and sell stocks?

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That’s one question my mother had last night. I’m going to try to answer those sorts of consumer/personal finance questions throughout the day, so let me know what you’re wondering. Not just about Merrill and Bank of America, but also about the other companies in the news—Lehman, AIG—or bigger-picture issues like what happens to your broader stock holdings, chances of getting a loan, etc.

Now about those brokers:

Merrill Lynch has nearly 17,000 financial advisors between its retail brokerage and wealth management units. That’s part of what attracted Bank of America—B of A Ken Lewis called it “the crown jewel of Merrill Lynch”—so chances are, your broker isn’t going anywhere. In a press conference Monday morning, Lewis said Bank of America had created “the best wealth management company in the world” and that B of A planned to keep the Merrill name and organization in tact. Merrill’s (outgoing) CEO John Thain said that Merrill had been talking to its financial advisors and that the reaction so far was positive.

Bank of America has about 2,000 of its own financial advisors, and a system in place to connect those planners with the bank’s other customers, like those with savings and checking accounts. That infrastructure will be ramped up to accommodate the new Merrill advisors. So if you’ve got an account at B of A, get ready for the upsell.

UPDATE: In other wealth-manager news, there are still at least two bidders for Lehman’s Neuberger Berman unit, according to CNBC. Lehman was looking to sell just a slice of Neuberger, but now the whole thing is on the block.

In the meantime, per Lehman:

Neuberger Berman, LLC and Lehman Brothers Asset Management will continue to conduct business as usual and will not be subject to the bankruptcy case of its parent, and its portfolio management, research and operating functions remain intact. In addition, fully paid securities of customers of Neuberger Berman are segregated from the assets of Lehman Brothers and are not subject to the claims of Lehman Brothers Holdings’ creditors.

Barbara!

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