Facts & Resources

Merrill Edge and Merrill Edge Report

Merrill Edge® Offers Consumers Access to Capabilities From Bank of America and Merrill Lynch

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Key Findings from the Merrill Edge Report

On October 28, 2013, Bank of America released the Merrill Edge Report, a semi-annual study that offers an in-depth look at the financial concerns, priorities and behaviors of mass affluent consumers, defined as people with $50,000-$250,000 in total household investable assets. Findings include:

Mass affluent Americans are pursuing more aggressive retirement goals instead of paying down debt

Retirement investing has moved back to the top of the financial to-do list for mass affluent Americans. As this group of investors increasingly finds its financial equilibrium, paying down debt slides to second place. While preparing for retirement is a priority for both men and women, on average, men anticipate saving $232,000 more than women even though both plan to retire at the age of 66.

Setting aggressive retirement goals, yet there is a gap in current savings

When it comes to retirement, overall the mass affluent anticipate saving more than $700,000 for retirement, but currently only have about $160,000 saved. This data suggests there is a gap between retirement goals and actual savings.

Even as the economy slowly improves, the number of respondents planning to delay retirement is still growing. Sixty-one percent of respondents now intend to retire later than originally anticipated, a six percent increase from the Merrill Edge Report Spring 2013.

Parents and grandparents should teach children good money habits

Half of the mass affluent cited that they learned financial literacy the hard way. After managing their finances through trial and error, 88 percent now believe that parents and grandparents should play a more active role in imparting financial knowledge to their children. Seventy-one percent also said that it is important to teach financial literacy lessons by the age of 18. In addition, 40 percent of the mass affluent get their financial information and guidance from a financial professional, while 28 percent seek advice from friends and family. This trend remains consistent with findings from the Merrill Edge Report Spring 2013.

Debt incurred for a college education is still worth it

Across generations, the mass affluent agree that a college education is worth going into debt for and nearly a third plan to rely heavily on student loans. Despite the rising costs of a four-year college education, the majority of the mass affluent think it’s worth it for a parent and/or child to take on debt to attend college. On average, the mass affluent have saved or are planning to save about $63,000 toward their child’s college education. They plan to fund their child’s college education with a combination of personal savings, scholarships or grants and student loans.


Merrill Edge Report Methodology

Braun Research, Inc. conducted the Merrill Edge Report survey by phone between September 9, 2013 and September 17, 2013 on behalf of Merrill Edge. Braun contacted a nationally representative sample of 1016 Americans in the United States with investable assets between $50,000 and $249,999, and oversampled 300 mass affluent in Los Angeles, Orange County, Calif., San Francisco, Dallas, Northern New Jersey and South Florida. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percent for the national sample and +/- 5.7 percent for the oversample markets, with both reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

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News Releases and Additional Information

Press Releases


Research Materials


Executive Biographies

  • Dean Athanasia, Mass Affluent and Small Business Segment executive, Bank of America
  • Alok Prasad, head of Merrill Edge
  • John Thiel, head of U.S. Wealth Management and the Private Banking and Investment Group, Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management


For More Information

For more information about Merrill Edge and the Merrill Edge Report, please contact Kristen Georgian, Bank of America, 1.617.434.0234.