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A Merrill Lynch branch office (Photo: AP)

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is adding 40 model portfolios to its wealth management investment platform from BlackRock, JPMorgan, Franklin Templeton and Natixis to let its advisors have more options when customizing client portfolios

The model portfolios — which include passive and active holdings — are available to clients with $50,000 or more in assets in its Merrill Lynch Investment Advisory Program. 

“Access to a wide range of products and platforms, combined with our robust specialist organization, gives our advisors a competitive advantage to develop personalized approaches when helping clients pursue their goals,” according to Keith Glenfield, head of investment products for BofA.

Merrill says that nine out of 10 advisors use at least one model portfolio, and one in four manage 25% or more of their client assets via the portfolios. The portfolios now number 165 — 125 of which are managed by the bank’s Chief Investment Office and 120 investment professionals within the bank.

“The focus of investing has begun to shift from product selection to portfolio construction, with the true value of advice for clients being the ability to customize unique paths toward reaching their goals,” said Keith Banks, head of BofA’s Investment Solutions Group, in a statement. 

The new model portfolios are multi-asset, multi-manager, hybrid portfolios that include a mix of mutual funds and exchange-traded funds; they incorporate a range approaches, from conservative to aggressive, and vary in their tax approaches.

Q3 Earnings

As of the third quarter, Merrill had 17,657 financial advisors (including those in the mass-affluent Merrill Edge program), up from 17,657 as of June 30, 2019, and 17,456 as of Sept. 30, 2018. Last quarter, Merrill said it had 14,690 Merrill Lynch FAs and 2,818 with Merrill Edge (which is part of BofA’s Consumer Banking unit).

Over the past few quarters, the Merrill Lynch headcount has been trending down and the Merrill Edge headcount rising.

Average yearly fees and commissions at Merrill Lynch are $1.1 million, including new advisors, while veteran advisors average $1.4 million.

Merrill Lynch advisors worked with $2.44 trillion in assets as of Sept. 30.

The number of net new households for Merrill advisors year to date is 28,195, up 23% from the same time period in 2018. The gross figure is 49,341 through Sept. 30 — up 17% from the year-ago period.

Net client asset flows for the full wealth unit were $5.5 billion in Q3’19 vs. $8.2 billion in Q3’18 and $5.3 billion in Q2’19.

— Check out Merrill Boosts Trainee Pay by $10K on ThinkAdvisor.

Janet Levaux

Janet Levaux, MA/MBA, is Editor in Chief of Investment Advisor magazine; she has covered the financial markets since 1991 and advisors since 2005. After living in Latin America and Europe as part of her studies at Yale and Johns Hopkins SAIS, Janet worked in Japan and then California, where she earned a business degree, before returning to her hometown of San Antonio, Texas (which turned 300 in 2018).

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