Bank of America (BAC) said early Wednesday that it had launched Merrill Edge Select Portfolios to give its mass-affluent clients access to actively managed, diversified portfolios with a minimum balance requirement of $20,000 and a 1% yearly management fee.
“Merrill Edge Select Portfolios [were] specifically designed with the middle class and emerging-affluent investor in mind,” said Alok Prasad (left), a Merrill Edge executive, in a press. “We are lowering the balance requirements and providing a simple, straightforward way for a broader range of investors to access professionally managed investments.”
According to BofA, the series includes 10 portfolios, ranging from conservative to aggressive in investment style. Investments include mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with holdings in stocks, bonds and international investment products.
The new portfolios are managed by Merrill Lynch investment professionals, who will actively monitor and rebalance the portfolios based on changing market conditions. Clients can also monitor their portfolio performance in real-time online.
“This is outstanding opportunity for emerging investors to gain access to a portfolio managed by Merrill Lynch investment professionals,” said Tom Halloran, Merrill Edge product executive, in a statement. “Customers will have choices in how they invest depending on their individual goals, and the account opening process makes it very easy to get started.”
BofA currently has more than 1,200 financial solutions advisors (FSAs) serving mass-affluent clients; about 500 are based in branches and the remaining 700 in Merrill's three advisory centers. It also employs about 700 small-business bankers serving clients in bank branches and plans to have 1,000 in place by mid-2012.
Merrill FSAs focus on investors with between $50,000 and $250,000 in investable assets, which BofA sees as an important market segment and growth opportunity.