“We are not exploring any expansion into the RIA segment of the marketplace,” according to a senior Merrill Lynch executive, who spoke with the media after parent firm Bank of America released its earnings Tuesday.
Its resource offering, which includes loans and trust services from across the company that clients access via their advisors “is powerful … and that is not a strategy that can be delivered on an independent platform,” said the executive, who asked not to be named.
As for a move into a subscription model, as Charles Schwab did earlier this year, Bank of America’s global wealth unit is “continuously evaluating pricing strategies,” he explained, cautiously pointing out that 82% of its current revenue comes from fees on assets under management and net interest income tied to deposits and loans.
On Tuesday, an executive in charge of digital capabilities for Merrill Edge — its DIY platform — said at an industry event hosted by SourceMedia that such a model is “a logical next step.” That statement came about six weeks after Bank of America gave clients the option of adding a human advisor to their robo accounts via Merrill Guided Investing, which has a $20,000 minimum and an annual fee of 0.85%.
The global wealth unit, which includes Merrill Lynch and Bank of America Private Bank, grew its revenue 4% year over year to about $4.9 billion in the second quarter of 2019, while net income jumped 10.5% to over $1.07 billion.