The European head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Alex Wilmot-Sitwell, has tendered his resignation throwing a wrench in the bank’s plans with regards to Brexit. For the last six years Wilmot-Sitwell was the president of the bank for the EMEA region consisting of Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
The Briton was highly involved in the bank’s plans for Brexit and had also been appointed to serve as the chairman of the broker dealer which will take over the EU markets business of Bank of America next year after the United Kingdom leaves the bloc. Wilmot-Sitwell was known to have been pro-EU and had wanted Britain to remain in the bloc. Recently his frustrations had grown over the flailing negotiations.
New business structure
The departure of the veteran banker is understood to have been amicable and driven by the fact that the reorganization would have changed not only his role but the structure of the bank after Brexit. Bank of America will split is current European Union headquarters which are located in London into a banking and broker dealer business situated in Dublin, Ireland to serve clients from the bloc. The bank’s enhanced trading operation will be located in Paris, France. In London, the remaining operation will focus on serving clients in the United Kingdom and some global business.
Tom Montag, the chief operating officer of Bank of America, said Wilmot-Sitwell had contributed greatly to the market share, profitability and strong growth the lender had experienced in the EMEA region during his six years as the president.
“In addition to his business leadership, Alex has also been instrumental in the development of our culture in Emea and has been an outstanding champion of our diversity and inclusion programmes,” said Montag.
Customer service chatbot
Prior to joining Bank of America, Wilmot-Sitwell had served as the chairman of the investment banking unit of UBS. The resignation of Wilmot-Sitwell comes in the wake of Bank of America unveiling a chatbot known as Erica which will assist clients with checking balances, answering bank-related questions and bill reminders. Initially it will be a limited roll-out and so will be restricted to the state of Rhode Island at first.
Erica was first demoed two years ago at a payments and fintech conference while the bank’s employees began testing the chatbot in 2017. Part of the reason for the limited rollout is the caution banks exercise with new technology in order to avoid mistakes that could hurt the image of the bank.