(Reuters) - The multimillion-dollar signing bonuses that big brokerages are doling out to recruit elite brokers may seem excessive, but internal reports from Merrill Lynch show why firms are willing to pay top dollar for a top broker.

Nearly 46% of the revenue received by Merrill Lynch's Global Wealth Management unit last year came from just 21% of its top-producing brokers, about 2,500 people, according to copies of the reports reviewed by Reuters.

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