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Portfolio > Portfolio Construction

Merrill Edge Adds Fund Research Tool With ESG Info

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Bank of America continues to add tools to its popular do-it-yourself investing platform, Merrill Edge. On Thursday, it launched a fund-evaluation resource called Fund Story, which has details on environmental, social and governance data along with fund holdings, costs and ratings.

This new tool comes about a year after Merrill Edge added analysis and performance-review tools Stock Story and Portfolio Story.

“This new capability goes beyond just providing access to critical information,” according to Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge. “Fund Story provides a curated, engaging and understandable experience that can empower our clients to make their financial lives better.”

BofA rolled out Merrill Edge in 2010. The platform, which includes its robo-advisor Guided Investing, had close to $204 billion in assets and more than 2.5 million accounts as of Sept. 30, 2018.

Early last year, BofA said it planned to have 2,800 Merrill Edge financial centers in place by 2020, up 600 from 2018. It also expected to add 300 new advisors to the program, for a total of 4,000 representatives.

The bank says the Fund Story tool lets investors:

  • See what’s held in a fund, its sector and global exposure, and historical performance;
  • Evaluate fund ratings from third-party research firms, including risk ratings;
  • Have a clear view of fund costs, such as fees tied to buying and selling shares;
  • See how fees are assessed and how they affect returns over time (via future-value analysis); and
  • Assess funds using ESG scores from MSCI.

In a survey of more than 1,030 mass-affluent investors conducted in the fall of 2018 on behalf of Merrill Edge, 57% of those polled said they invest in causes they care about, with faith-based charities, women’s causes and environmental-protection initiatives cited as the most popular concerns.

Also, the research group ETFGI said recently that global assets invested in environmental, social and governance exchange-traded funds and other products were up nearly 34% in the first 11 months of 2018 from the year-ago period, compared with just 4.6% year-over-year growth in the assets of all ETFs and ETPs trading worldwide.

ESG ETFs and ETPs had close to $856 million of asset inflows in November, a jump of almost 7% from the prior month. Their total invested asset level stands at $23.22 billion.


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