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Merrill Lynch Starts Texting Program for Advisors

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Merrill Lynch will let its nearly 15,000 financial advisors text clients and is rolling out the tech tools to make that happen over the next few weeks.

The wirehouse is partnering with CellTrust, which will time- and date-stamp, track, log and archive the messages. Advisors will be able to share text messages with clients on Android and Apple devices and via a web interface.

The news comes about seven months after rival Morgan Stanley made a similar announcement about the launch of its texting program, which it is working on with Twilio; it says the texting capabilities are now available to all FAs.

“Texting is just our latest investment in building our state-of-the-art digital capabilities — so that we can serve our clients when, where and how they want,” said Andy Sieg, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, in a statement on Thursday.

“It’s one more step toward making the full advantages of our combined Bank of America and Merrill Lynch platform of products and services easily accessible,” Sieg added. 

Merrill Lynch’s Thundering Herd of advisors stood at 14,954 on Sept. 30 vs. 15,759 at Morgan Stanley. Merrill advisors had average fees and commissions of $994,000 per advisor (including new and veteran FAs); veteran FAs’ averaged $1.30 million. Morgan Stanley’s average production was $1.07 million for all registered reps.

Bank of America will release its latest quarterly and full-year earnings report on Wednesday, while Morgan Stanley will do so on Thursday.

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As part of its announcement, Merrill Lynch says the “texting option” is being launched along with “advanced advisor websites, a mobile client relationship management application, integrated social media capabilities and a revamped content sharing platform.” 

For the past year, advisors have been able to customize and update their websites as needed. The firm says that more than 8,000 sites have been launched since January 2017. In addition, the websites are connected to advisors’ LinkedIn profiles.

Merrill Lynch says it recently added a LinkedIn Finder to its client website to help prospects more easily find advisors via common connections. The Merrill Lynch Advisor eCommunications Center also is integrated into Salesforce; Salesforce Mobile was launched in 2017.

As for client-facing platforms, the firm says investors’ use of the MyMerrill mobile app, rolled out in late 2016, “continues to see dramatic growth.”


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