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Merrill Lynch Expands Services for Self-Directed Investors

January 9, 2019

Merrill Lynch is stepping up its game to compete with discount brokerages by offering fund research capabilities that were previously available only to the wirehouse’s financial advisors to clients on its self-guided investing platform, according to news reports.

The company has rolled out what it calls the “Fund Story” feature for research on mutual funds and ETFs to users of Merrill Edge, the self-guided investing platform that now has more than $200 billion in assets, WealthManagement.com writes.

The new feature allows for far faster evaluation of funds, including costs, analysts’ recommendations, third-party ratings and environment, social and governance (ESG) scores, a Merrill Lynch spokesperson tells the web publication.

While the information itself had been available already on Merrill Edge, it would have taken far more time to pull up and sort, WealthManagement.com writes. The amount of data investors had to previously go through led to “information overload” until the rollout of the new feature, Cory Triolo, head of digital client experience for Merrill Edge, tells the web publication. Now, it only takes a minute or two to get the same data, according to WealthManagement.com.

Merrill Lynch was already offering “similar resources” to its financial advisors as well as some institutional investors, Triolo tells the web publication.

Offering such resources to DIY investors is part of a broader strategy the firm has pursued to offer its full range of services to clients across the spectrum, according to WealthManagement.com. And that will likely make it more difficult for competitors to poach Merrill Edge clients, Dennis Gallant, a senior analyst at research firm Aite Group, tells the web publication.

“It does set the bar a bit higher in regards to the client experience,” he tells WealthManagement.com. “It does raise the stakes.”

By Alex Padalka
  • To read the Wealth Management article cited in this story, click here.