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Merrill Guided Investing Slashes Minimum by 80%

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What You Need to Know

  • The lower minimum brings Merrill Guided Investing in line with other digital advisors, including Goldman's Marcus Invest.
  • The minimum for ETF Core and Core Impact strategies of Merrill Guided with an Advisor accounts was also cut.
  • Merrill Guided Investing provides access to 15 investment strategies from the company's Chief Investment Office.

Bank of America has slashed the minimum initial investment for Merrill Guided Investing, its online advisory program for mass affluent investors using the Merrill Edge platform, from $5,000 to $1,000.

The move is intended to give more clients and prospects access to the program, which provides investors with access to 15 investment strategies built and managed by the company’s chief investment office, according to the Merrill announcement.

David Goldstone, manager of research and analytics for Backend Benchmarking and The Robo Report, said reducing minimums is a common response to growing competitive pressures across the digital advisory industry.

The Merrill Guided Investing minimum is now in line with that of Marcus Invest, a digital advisory service that Goldman Sachs launched last month, but is higher than Fidelity’s mass market digital platform, known as Fidelity Go, which has no minimum.

Merrill Guided Investing also has a 0.45% annual fee, which is higher than the fees charged by Fidelity, Goldman and others for their digital advisory services.

In addition to the lower minimum for the basic Merrill Guided Investing platform, Bank of America also announced that Merrill Guided with an Advisor, known as MGIA, also lowered the minimum for its ETF Core and Core Impact strategies to $1,000. That service included access to a financial advisor online, over the phone or via an in-person visit at a neighborhood financial center, for a fee of 0.85%.

Bank of America’s Consumer Investments business, which includes both Merrill Guided Investing services and the Merrill Edge Self-Directed platform, had combined client assets of more than $300 billion in the past year, representing a 27% increase year-over-year. Accounts totaled 3 million, up 10% year-over-year, according to the bank.