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BofA-Merrill Lynch Rolls Out New Discount-Trading Platform

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Bank of America-Merrill Lynch launched the Merrill Edge platform on June 21 to give new and existing customers discount online-trading, banking and other services.

The online-trading services are being offered to some clients at a discount when compared to fees generally charged by Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, the company says.

With balances of $25,000 or more in some accounts, investors can make up to 30 equity or ETF trades for free. For others, and when more than 30 trades per month take place, there are charges of $4.95 or $8.95 per trade.

Merrill is reportedly aiming to target investors with $250,000 or less in investable assets.

Investors opening certain accounts on the site and with more than $20,000 to invest may also seek advice from advisers, who are not part of Merrill Lynch’s full-service brokerage force, by phone.

It was described briefly by Sallie Krawcheck, head of BofA’s wealth-management operations, in February. She told Reuters at the time that Merrill wanted to help investors who wanted to do a bit of trading and also to target “the next generation [of investors] who are feeling pretty hurt by the downturn.”

Equity analysts say that Merrill and the other wirehouses could benefit from services that can attract younger investors now trading though online accounts at Fidelity or Vanguard. Strategies that target more active traders could be less effective, they believe.


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