Bank of America Corp's push into the competitive realm of managing retirement assets is paying early dividends.

The bank's retirement business is winning more 401(k) plan business from its large corporate clients in a major initiative, Chief Executive Brian Moynihan said on Wednesday.

Moynihan, speaking at Citigroup's Financial Services Conference on March 10, said the bank's institutional retirement unit has won the rights to administer two plans with more than $1 billion in assets this year.

The CEO said the institutional retirement unit's performance so far in 2010 has already outpaced 2009.

The growth reflects a larger push within Bank of America's global wealth and investment management division to acquire more individual and corporate clients' retirement accounts.

On February 19, Andy Sieg, head of Bank of America's retirement and philanthropy business -- and a lieutenant of global wealth management chief Sallie Krawcheck, said he wanted to expand the business to be multiples of what it is today.

More broadly, Moynihan said the wealth division, along with investment banking, would be a key driver of earnings growth for the largest U.S. bank by assets, as the two previously independent companies continue their integration.

So far, he said the bank's Merrill Lynch wealth management has received more than 225,000 referrals from the consumer bank operations.

Conversely, the consumer bank has sold roughly 37,500 credit and banking products to Merrill Lynch customers since the deal closed, according to Moynihan's presentation slides.

Financial advisers have also provided 6,500 referrals to the bank's commercial banking operations, which primarily serves businesses. Advisers have received 2,200 client referrals from the commercial bank, the slides stated.

(Reporting by Joe Rauch; Editing by Richard Chang)