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Merrill Aims to Paint Clearer Retirement Picture Through App-Based Program

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Bank of America Merrill Lynch thinks there’s a better way to start a conversation with clients approaching retirement than asking about their money. It’s more productive to ask about their lives.

On Wednesday, the firm rolled out Merrill Lynch Clear, a program that uses technology to facilitate broader advisor-client conversations.

This exploration is intended to lead to goal setting, the creation of an investment strategy to help pursue those goals and making course corrections as needed.

MLClear includes a series of iPad “discovery apps” that focus on exploration of life priorities, and ones that allow individuals to do their own research about Social Security, health care, lifetime income and knowing their investment personality.

The apps use illustrations, educational resources and interactive exercises to better understand and allocate resources based on personal goals and circumstances.

MLClear is designed, the firm said, to modernize the process of preparing for retirement through an exploration of seven distinct life priorities that connect the financial aspects of life in retirement — health, home, family, finance, giving, work and leisure.

Introducing MLClear, Merrill’s head of retirement and personal wealth solutions David Tyrie said development of the program was driven by several factors.

One was demographics. He said Merrill’s research showed that 10,000 people were turning 65 every day, and these folks were living 30 to 40 years longer than earlier cohorts.

Their number one concern is how to plan for the latter part of their lives. “They say they’re looking for peace of mind,” Tyrie said. Indeed, peace of mind is significantly more important to them than accumulation of wealth.

In addition, he said, focus groups around the country showed that people approaching retirement were looking for a holistic approach to retirement planning, not just a dollar figure they would need to make it through retirement.

They are looking for retirement outcomes. They realize that things change on the path through retirement, requiring a “course correction. They want mission control,” he said.

MLClear brings technology to bear in setting goals. Specially trained financial advisors equipped with an iPad can ease into a discussion about a client’s priorities.

For example, tapping “Giving” brings up in-depth looks at considerations such as smart ways to transfer a family business, giving an inheritance during life rather than through a will and advice to first-time grandparents.


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