Fresh off of meeting its 2011 Merrill Edge financial solutions advisor hiring goals, Bank of America has announced it plans to add more than 160 hires in Arizona and Southern California in the coming year.

The 160 new hires are slated to be added by the end of the first quarter, and will bring the total financial solutions advisor force in that area to more than 250. The targeted metropolitan areas for the hires will include Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County.

The Merrill Edge business targets what the firm calls preferred customers, or a set of investors with between $50,000 to $250,000 in investable assets. The Merrill Edge business includes both team-based brokerage services and an online investment platform.

Bank of America’s new hiring plans come as the firm steadily added to its Merrill Edge financial solutions advisor force throughout 2011. Last month, the firm announced it had reached its goal to reach a total of more than 1,000 financial solutions advisors to its Merrill Edge program by the end of the year. Other areas targeted for new hires have included the mid-Atlantic region, as well as states like Florida and Texas.

With its new hiring plans for 2012, Bank of America also announced several new Merrill Edge regional appointments. They include Debra West in San Diego, Nick Givogri in South Orange County, Gioia McCarthy in North Orange County and Will Smayda in Los Angeles.

The firm said it also plans to fill additional regional manager slots in Phoenix, Ariz., and the Inland Empire region in Southern California.

Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.