Bank of America headquarters in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo: AP)

Continuing its plan to nearly double the number of Financial Solutions Advisors serving mass affluent clients by year-end to 1,000, Bank of America (BAC) announced Wednesday that it hired more than 80 FSAs across the Northwest region.

The new FSA hires in San Francisco, San Jose, Calif., Sacramento, Calif., and Las Vegas will serve BofA’s Preferred customers–those with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000—and increases the total number of FSAs in the Northwest region to nearly 120.

On Sept. 19, Merrill announced that it had added 180 more advisors to Merrill Edge, with the bulk of the new hires joining Merrill’s advisory center in Hopewell, N.J. In August, Merrill hired 38 FSAs in and around Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Preferred customers–those with investable assets of $50,000 to $250,000–are among the fastest-growing segments in the financial services industry, BofA says. Bank of America does business with more than 8 million Preferred customers.

According to the Merrill Edge Report, some of the top priorities for Preferred customers 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%).

In support of its new Preferred service strategy, BofA says it is also working to enhance customer experience and satisfaction by:

  • Rolling out Platinum Privileges, which rewards customers who maintain $50,000 or more in deposit balances with Bank of America or investment balances with Merrill Edge with higher levels of service and comprehensive benefits across their banking and investing needs. Based on the success of a three-state pilot of Platinum Privileges that began early this year, Bank of America is beginning a national rollout of Platinum Privileges.
  • Continuing to improve the Merrill Edge offering, including the introduction of a mobile application for iPad, iPhone and BlackBerry earlier this year, and the addition of 481 new no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
  • Introducing specialty stores that provide in-person access to investment, small business and mortgage specialists and use technologies such as video conferencing.
  • Hiring 1,000 small business bankers in local communities to provide small business customers with local specialists to address their complex financial needs. Together with the 1,000 FSAs, this will create a 2,000-plus person team dedicated to the more complex needs of Preferred and Small Business customers.