“We are leveraging our investment management education and guidance group to be a screener for advisors to utilize, which is a significant advantage for our financial advisors,” said Kevin Crain (left), head of Institutional Retirement & Benefit Services for Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, in an interview with AdvisorOne. “They can tailor these services for individual-plan sponsors.”
Some rivals have an individual RIA or advisor put such solutions together, whereas Merrill FAs can “leverage the largest investment management guidance capacity available,” Crain said. “This should be exciting to plan sponsors as they look at this service.”
The DC services, announced Friday, will be introduced during the rest of 2012 and in 2013 to institutional clients with $25 million or more in assets. The DC services could be offered to plans that currently hold about $1.2 trillion of assets nationwide, according to BofA-Merrill, which officially relaunched its institutional retirement service offerings last fall.
About 250 Merrill Lynch advisors now hold specialized defined contribution or global institutional consulting designations. Next month, these advisors could pursue training in order to sell these new DC consulting services.
“We think that 30 to 50 will come out initially for this further accreditation, and that number should grow to close to 100 advisors or so a year from now,” Crain said. Though this work isn’t meant for hundreds of Merrill’s thundering herd—which now numbers about 17,000—it could generate some recruiting interest, he says.
Merrill Edge, 401(k)s
On Tuesday, BofA said it introduced Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) services for clients with plans that include $250,000 or less in total assets.