Bank of America will hire more than 160 Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisors (FSAs) in Southern California and Arizona by the end of first quarter 2012, company officials said Monday.

To be based in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County and Phoenix, the new advisors will bring the total number of FSAs in BofA banking centers in that region to more than 250. An estimated 110 FSAs are already located in the Merrill Edge Advisory Center in Chandler, Ariz.

The new FSAs will serve the bank's "preferred customers" -- those with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000. The FSAs will help preferred customers manage their banking and investment needs and stay in better control of their finances.

"By placing more Merrill Edge FSAs in banking centers throughout southern California and Arizona, we will be able to offer our preferred customers in-person attention and support with their saving, investing and financial planning," says Linda Shelby, Merrill Edge West Division executive.

Bank of America also appointed new Merrill Edge regional managers in southern California to assist preferred customers. The group includes Gioia McCarthy in North Orange County, Will Smayda in Los Angeles, Nick Givogri in South Orange County and Debra West in San Diego. Additional regional managers are planned in Phoenix, Ariz., and the Inland Empire area in California.

-Jim McConville