From MyMerrill.com to its online investment service Merrill Edge, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch
says it is introducing changes to boost
how clients and advisors interact with
it via information technology.
These I T improvements support Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s 14,811
financial advisors, who have about $2.2
trillion in client assets as of June 30. Average yearly fees and commission for the
group are $1.04 million, while veteran
advisors produce $1.35 million.
To get insights on the thinking behind
the firm’s innovation, Research on Wealth
spoke with Kabir Sethi, managing director
and head of Digital Wealth Management for
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Sethi
has worked for the company since 2004 in
a variety of roles, such as serving as head
of Digital Banking and of head of Platform
Integration and Delivery for Merrill Edge.
What is Merrill Lynch Wealth Management’s view on client expectations regarding technology (online,
mobile, etc.) for the next year or two?
And what is it doing to meet those
We’re continuing to invest heavily in
technologies to meet client demand for
access to financial services through mobile
devices and online access. We recently
announced major enhancements to our
mobile apps and other technologies in
recognition of this increasing demand.
Our new capabilities include the ability to
initiate wire transfers from mobile devices
as well as enhancements to our website.
We’ll continue to evolve our mobile and
online capabilities over the next few years.
What does Merrill Lynch believe
advisors want for both their office
and mobile technology over the next
year or two? How is it trying to meet
those advisor expectations?
For advisors, we recently created state-of-the art websites with substantial LinkedIn
capability built in. By the end of the year,
every Merrill Lynch advisor will have a
personalized website with dynamic content, with video capability soon to follow.
Our advisors are allowed to access
LinkedIn directly from their worksta-
tions. In addition to creating their pro-
files — including credentials, skills and
hobbies — advisors can also post timely
and thought-provoking articles and white
papers from our broader organization.
To support advisor mobility, we re-
cently launched Salesforce 1, enabling
our advisors to update client information
and tasks on the program while on the go.
With Salesforce 1, advisors can collabo-
rate with their team, organize their day
and retrieve client contact information.
Advisors are already leveraging tablets for client presentations and reviews
outside the office with apps providing
real-time information on their clients’
progress in reaching their financial goals.
Does Merrill Lynch have a tech-focused
committee of advisors, and what does
it do? Likewise, how does the firm
regularly solicit and integrate advisor feedback on technology?
Yes, our Advisory Council to Management
(ACTM) has advisor “technology champions” who act as a conduit for advisor
feedback and suggestions on potential
enhancements. Advisors provide feedback
to their ACTM representatives, and the
appropriate committees work to evaluate
and prioritize requests to share with corporate partners in the lines of business.
A Look at Merrill’s Mojo
Kabir Sethi describes the different areas of focus for Merrill Lynch
Wealth Management’s technology efforts, including social media
By JANET LEVAUX