Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s “good, strong solid advice” to clients is not to hold on to cash despite the market volatility, according to president Andy Sieg.
“We’re very balanced in our view right now. As clients are coming to us with cash, we’re suggesting that they step into the market, dollar-cost averaging, that’s just good, strong, solid advice,” Sieg said Wednesday on CNBC’s Squawk Box.
“[W]hat we’re also doing is trying to help people pivot to think about, ‘Where do you want to have money invested for 2023, 2024, 2025?'” he added.
Not trying to look ahead would be detrimental for clients, according to Sieg.
“One of the big traps right now is living in the rearview mirror. There’s a lot of volatility behind us. Now is the time, though, as we come into the fall, let’s pivot and think about where the opportunity is going to be ahead of us,” Sieg said.
Healthcare, energy and technology are the sectors “where investors want to be putting cash to work,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sieg noted that Merrill has seen “a substantial increase in terms of advisor-client conversations.”
“Financial planning conversations and meetings we have with clients, which we track, were up 60% year-over-year. And in those meetings, what we find our advisors doing more often than not is helping clients stay anchored to asset allocation,” Sieg said.
“Don’t let the emotions of the moment, the crosswinds in the market, knock you off your long-term plans,” Sieg added. “If nothing has changed in terms of your risk tolerance and your goals, the portfolios that have been set are probably solid and the work that’s there to be done are topics more like tax-loss harvesting, some more limited tactical rebalancing.”
Sieg also said that he “couldn’t be more proud” of the work Merrill’s advisors have done helping clients stick with long-term plans and asset allocations amid the market volatility this year.
Merrill had $4.5 billion in revenues in the second quarter, up 6% year-over-year, and net interest income of $1.3 billion, up 33% year-over-year. During a media briefing in July after the release of the second-quarter earnings for Merrill parent Bank of America, Sieg attributed the strong financial results to the wirehouse’s advisors.
“These results are driven by our advisors who are doing a phenomenal job engaging clients when they need us most. Our advisors are helping clients keep tough headlines in perspective, reviewing their plans and ensuring they remain on track. In fact, 59% more financial planning reports were run in the second quarter versus a year ago,” Sieg said in July.
“Advisors are also helping clients to combat complex markets by simplifying their financial lives. They’re serving as a one-stop-shop for clients’ full financial picture, including banking and lending,” he added at the time.
Merrill added 11,400 net new household clients in the first half of the year, five times the pace of the first half of 2016 or 2017, Sieg said in July. Additionally, the average new client size is $1.7 million per household, up 18% year-over-year, he noted at the time.