Is there a specific expectation for how
active advisors should be on social
media? If so, why is that expectation
in place, and how are advisors doing
in terms of meeting that expectation?
Our advisors have broad capabilities on
LinkedIn, including access to LinkedIn
Finder, which enables prospects and clients to find advisors based on common
connections. This allows them to build
on the strong social networking capabilities available at our firm and is a more
personalized approach to searching for
Although there is not an “expectation”
of social media advisor usage, we strongly
encourage advisors to spend a minimum
of 15 minutes, three to five times a week,
to engage with their LinkedIn network
and identify potential opportunities.
Approximately half of our advisors
are on our compliant LinkedIn plat-
form. Of those, about 75% are actively
using the tool.
What is Merrill Lynch’s overall phi-
losophy with regards to technology
in the long term?
We are firmly committed to maintaining
and building our technology lead. We currently have the best workstations, platforms and websites available anywhere
in the industry. Technology has always
been a competitive advantage for us, and
we plan to keep it that way.
What is Merrill Lynch thinking about
in terms of robo-advisors, automation,
artificial intelligence and the like for
the next five years or so?
We publicly launched Merrill Edge Guided
Investing (MEGI), our online advisory
platform, in January 2017. It was met
with substantial interest from clients.
MEGI is the latest addition to our
continuum of investment offerings. It
offers investors another way to pursue
their financial goals, whether they have
a little or a lot to invest.
Rather than algorithms, MEGI provides
investment strategies based on the deep
financial expertise and world-class research
of the Merrill Lynch Global Wealth and
Investment Management (GWIM) Chief
Investment Office, helping clients set,
pursue and achieve their financial goals.
Would you like to share more thoughts
on advisors, clients and technology
strategy at Merrill Lynch?
We are guided by a commitment to making
our clients’ financial lives better by helping them attain goals that are personally
meaningful. Making investments in technology helps us to continually improve
the platform that allows us to do this.
MORE ROBO PLATFORM NEWS FROM ANOTHER KEY INDUSTRY PLAYER
Fidelity officially launched its Automated Managed Platform
(AMP) for advisors on Sept. 13. It developed the platform with
eMoney, which it acquired two years ago. AMP is accessible
through Wealthscape, Fidelity’s advisor technology platform,
and is available to advisors who have a custody relationship
with Fidelity and a license for eMoney.
The new tool allows advisors “to seamlessly manage digital
accounts alongside other [more traditional] accounts,” says
Gary Gallagher, senior vice president of investment products
for Fidelity Institutional. AMP has a dual purpose: to “up the
game, using collaborative technology with existing clients”
and to attract and onboard new ones, he adds.
The platform is “well-positioned for the hybrid-advisor
market, using digital and human touch” that can grow as
clients’ needs and goals change, says the Fidelity execu-
tive. He describes the platform as “goal-oriented, flexible
and customizable to meet advisors’ needs.”
Using eMoney, clients can onboard themselves, set goals
and, by connecting to Fidelity’s brokerage capabilities, open
and fund their accounts; advisors can move clients from a
strictly automated service to a more collaborative one and
manage digital and traditional assets in one place; advisors
can adjust the combination of human and digital advice for
individual clients as their assets and needs change; and advi-
sors using another digital-advice strategy can integrate with
select third-party vendors through additional APIs and ap-
ply their own branding to the end-investor portal, including
the creation of their own investor profile questionnaire (IPQ).
Beginning next year, AMP will roll out additional capabilities
for select advisors to customize client portfolios further, based
on clients’ risk tolerance and their IPQs. The AMP platform
currently includes 14 investment models consisting of pas-
sive index funds from BlackRock’s iShares and Fidelity, for a
fee of 15 basis points excluding E TF fees. Several clients have
already signed on to the new platform, according to Fidelity.
The official AMP launch comes just a little more than a
year after Fidelity introduced Fidelity Go, its robo-advisor for
retail clients, and more than two years after Schwab launched
Institutional Intelligent Portfolios. The market leader today is
Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, a hybrid offering with
assets of $83 billion. According to Fidelity research, 61% of
investors prefer hybrid advice. —Bernice Napach