Bank of America (BAC) said late Tuesday that it has hired 38 Merrill Edge advisors serving mass-affluent clients in and around Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia. The hiring is part of BofA-Merrill’s plan to nearly double the number of Financial Solutions Advisors to 1,000-plus by year-end.
The first advisors hired under the plan in October 2009 were placed in BofA branches as part of a pilot project for Bank of America-Merrill in Boston, Chicago and Seattle, according Tony Burns, Merrill Edge Mid-Atlantic regional sales manager. The advisors generally have Series 7 and Series 66 licenses. Merrill Edge was officially introduced nationwide in the summer of 2010.
“Now we are putting more Financial Solutions Advisors into our banking centers in areas like Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York,” Burns (left) said in an interview with AdvisorOne on Wednesday, “and we are seeing great results.”
Merrill’s objective is to offer more products and services to some 8 million BofA mass-affluent clients, also referred to as “preferred customers,” with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000.
According to a Merrill Edge Report, some of the top priorities for these clients include wanting a better retirement than their parents (85%), having access to both banking and investing solutions (73%) and maintaining the ability to track and manage their money (72%).
Merrill Edge mass-affluent clients can use the self-directed online platform, work by phone with about 500 advisors based in three call centers (located in Arizona, Florida and New Jersey) or interact in person with the FSA now being added to BofA branches nationwide, explains Burns. High-net-worth clients seeking advice in the bank branches are referred to Merrill Lynch financial advisors, he adds, who are led by Sallie Krawcheck.
“These are designed to be complimentary not competitive operations,” the executive said. “Serving some 8 million preferred clients with more products and services represents a big opportunity for us.”
Many Merrill Edge advisors are being hired by BofA after they’ve completed training programs at Merrill Lynch, other wirehouse firms and other banks, Burns says.