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Portfolio > ETFs

Merrill Lynch to Enter Robo-Advice Race

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Merrill Edge, which was started about six years ago and now has over $130 billion in client assets, plans to introduce a robo-advice offering.

Its website highlights the new Merrill Edge Guided Investing program as one that combines online investing technology and human advisors.

The rollout of automated advice for existing Merrill Edge clients should take place later this year, with a broader introduction set for the first quarter, according to a report Tuesday in the The Wall Street Journal. (American Banker first broke the news on Monday.) 

The firm also aims to offer the program via a smartphone app.

In moving to rollout an automated-advice platform, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAC) seems to be looking to benefit from the popularity of programs started by independent firms like Betterment, which has over $5 billion in assets; Schwab, with more than $8 billion; and Vanguard, with over $40 billion. 

UBS, now working in a partnership with SigFig, and LPL Financial are moving to introduce automated portfolio programs later this year.

Investors can sign up with just $5,000—the same minimum as Fidelity’s Go program, which was introduced in late-July. Merrill will charge a 0.45% annual fee, as well as for costs related to the sales trades made by the underlying ETFs, for instance.

After evaluating an investor, their goals and investment preferences, the Merrill Edge program will recommend a strategy “designed by Merrill Lynch investment experts” and based on a portfolio of ETFs.

The portfolios will be rebalanced by “a team of Merrill Lynch portfolio managers,” according to the website.


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