Merrill Edge to Push Financial Planning for Mass Affluent

Its new tool, Roadmap, includes a financial action plan and twice-a-year meetings with clients

Bank of America (BAC) rolled out a new financial planning tool on Thursday for its 1.6 million mass-affluent Merrill Edge clients. The Merrill Edge Roadmap pairs clients with a Merrill Financial Solutions Advisor, who will deliver a financial action plans and meet with clients every six months.

“Mass affluent clients are focused on meeting their individual and family life goals, such as having a comfortable retirement or sending their children to college,” said Alok Prasad, head of Merrill Edge, in a statement. “Merrill Edge Roadmap looks at their financial goals and provides specific steps that they can act on by working with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor.”

About three-quarters (or 73%) of mass affluent Americans believe they have enough retirement assets to last throughout their lifetime, according to a recent Merrill Edge Report. Plus, 58% are using their personal savings to fund their children’s education.

With the launch of Roadmap, Bank of America-Merrill Edge executives hope that the group’s financial advisors can “help people balance and address their short-term and long-term financial needs and concerns.”

BofA says it has more than 1,500 financial advisors working in the mass affluent Merrill Edge business. The number of traditional Merrill Lynch advisors is about 16,415; including the Merrill Edge advisors, who are classified as part of BofA's Consumer Business & Banking unit, BofA has a total of about 20,410 client-facing professionals.

“We understand that our clients have unique financial situations and personal goals that evolve with time,” said Prasad. “Merrill Edge Roadmap will help them to identify and pursue these evolving goals throughout their lifetime—from entering the workforce to preparing for retirement.”

According to Merrill, the Roadmap plan includes a one-on-one conversation between a client and a licensed Merrill Edge Financial Solutions advisor in order to clarify financial details, like savings, income and expenses. This is followed by a discussion about retiring, saving for college, putting together emergency funds, saving for a large purchase or accumulating wealth.

After these steps, the client receives a financial action plan with specific investment recommendations. Going forward, the client will receive reports outlining progress being made toward the achievement of specific goals and will be able to meet with their advisors for “course corrections” every six months or so.

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