Facts & Resources

Merrill Edge and Merrill Edge Report

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

Merrill Edge is a streamlined investment service that provides access to the investment insights of Merrill Lynch and the convenience of Bank of America banking.

With Merrill Edge you can:

  • Simplify investment selection – Choose investments using streamlined lists of stocks, ETFs and mutual funds evaluated by Merrill Lynch research and analytics teams.1

  • Get simple step-by-step directions on how to build a retirement portfolio that can help you get on track and stay on track.

  • Validate your investment strategies with easy-to-use tools, actionable insights and one-on-one guidance.

  • Work with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™ to see where you are with your goals and what you can do to pursue them.

  • Simple flat-rate pricing – $6.95 per online equity and ETF trade*

* Other fees may apply. Sell trades are subject to a transactional fee of between $0.01 and $0.03 per $1,000 of principal. There are costs associated with owning ETFs. To learn more about Merrill Edge pricing, visit

1 Research provided by BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

Certain banking and brokerage accounts may be ineligible for real-time money movement, including but not limited to transfers to/from bank IRAs (CD, money market), 529s, SafeBalance Banking®, credit cards and transfers from IRAs, loans (HELOC, LOC, mortgage) and accounts held in the military bank. Accounts eligible for real-time transfers will be displayed online in the “To/From” dropdown menu on the transfer screen.

Key Findings from the Fall 2015 Merrill Edge Report
On November 2, 2015, Bank of America released the Merrill Edge Report, a biannual study that offers an in-depth perspective of 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:

Optimistic Outlook: Americans Look to Spend Less and Save More in 2016

This year, some Americans fell short of the financial goals they set towards the end of 2014. For 2015, 59 percent set a goal of saving for retirement – but only 31 percent have achieved that goal so far this year. Along similar lines, 51 percent agreed that paying down debt was a goal they had set for 2015. Yet, only 38 percent have achieved this goal so far in 2015.

Some Americans admit their finances could have been in better shape recently. Almost two in five (36 percent) wish that they had stuck to a budget in the last five years. However, a majority are looking to turn this around in 2016 as more than half of Americans believe they’ll save more (68 percent), spend less (67 percent) and invest more (53 percent).

Millennials are more confident than their older counterparts that they’ll save more (88 percent vs. 64 percent) and invest more (82 percent vs. 48 percent) in 2016. However, they differ from Gen Xers, baby boomers, and seniors (61 percent vs. 26 percent) in thinking that 2016 will also bring an uptick in their spending.

Retirement Expectations: Many View Retirement as a Time for a Lifestyle Upgrade

Half (50 percent) of non-retirees say they’re saving for retirement to improve their standard of living when they reach that stage of their lives, not to just afford the basics. Perhaps with this in mind, 89 percent of those currently saving for retirement wouldn’t be comfortable putting off this task today. Furthermore, almost half (47 percent) of people currently saving for retirement wish they had saved more for retirement over the last five years.

With high expectations for their retirement, Americans still struggle with external pressures on their finances. More than two in five (42 percent) report that the economy most impacts their current spending habits, as opposed to their saving or investing behaviors. Further, almost all Americans (95 percent) assert that they wouldn’t be comfortable spending beyond their means today, and most (79 percent) exhibit the same discomfort about dipping into their savings.

Being retired often changes financial habits.

  • More retirees than non-retirees believe they’ll invest less (71 percent vs. 31 percent) and save less (49 percent vs. 21 percent) in 2016.

  • It’s more common for retirees than non-retirees to believe that a big purchase is worthwhile as long as it doesn’t put them into debt (73 percent vs. 52 percent).

Retirees are also less likely than non-retirees to wish they had spent less on eating out (17 percent vs. 46 percent), clothes (10 percent vs. 28 percent), technology (8 percent vs. 20 percent), cars (7 percent vs. 17 percent) and vacations (5 percent vs. 19 percent) in the last five years.

Worthwhile Debt: Justifying Today’s Purchases

Although 84 percent of respondents wouldn’t be comfortable making expensive purchases today, many believe that a big expense or purchase is worthwhile if it lasts a long time (57 percent), has more value in the future (42 percent) or creates lasting memories (27 percent). Millennials in particular are more apt than older generations to justify large expenses or purchases if they generate lasting memories (61 percent vs. 21 percent) or feel like a “once in a lifetime” opportunity (55 percent vs. 28 percent).

Similar to memorable purchases, many Americans think debt can often be “worth it.” A majority of those who have incurred debt to pay for expenses like their child’s education (91 percent), their own education (88 percent) and cars (80 percent) agree that these particular financial obligations have been worthwhile. Most also believe that it was justifiable when they went into debt to afford a move to a new area (66 percent) or a vacation (60 percent).

In order to make a big purchase they can’t afford, nearly three in 10 (28 percent) would be most likely to take money out of savings or investments. More millennials than older generations (44 percent vs. 25 percent) and more non-parents than parents (38 percent vs. 24 percent) would choose to dig into their savings or investments if considering a big purchase they couldn’t afford.

More than two in five (41 percent) would either take out loans or carry the balance on their credit cards if making a big purchase they can’t afford. However, in the last five years, many wish they’d paid off debt faster (31 percent) and avoided going into debt (22 percent) altogether. Despite how many have gone into debt, in general, 94 percent wouldn’t be comfortable going into debt today.

Home Sweet Home: Americans Invest in the Home, Don’t Plan to Downsize in Retirement

Real estate in particular stands out as a category of spending where people perceive debt as an investment. In fact, almost all Americans (94 percent) do not wish they’d spent less on real estate in the last five years. And most of those who have gone into debt to pay for homes (92 percent) and home improvements or renovations (74 percent) feel that these debts were worthwhile.

Along similar lines, Americans are not willing to compromise their home, nor independence. In retirement, many wouldn’t be willing to move in with loved ones (54 percent), move to a cheaper area (26 percent) or move to a smaller home (23 percent), to minimize expenses during this stage of their lives.

Although respondents are clearly willing to invest heavily in their homes, many don’t feel they need to keep stretching past their financial boundaries in order to live there. More than nine in 10 (96 percent) admit they wouldn’t be comfortable living in a home that costs more than they can afford today.

Merrill Edge Report Methodology
Braun Research, Inc. conducted a nationally representative telephone survey on behalf of Merrill Edge. The survey was conducted from September 8 through September 20, 2015, and consisted of 1,001 mass affluent respondents throughout the U.S., defined as individuals with investable assets (value of all cash, savings, mutual funds, CDs, IRAs, stock, bonds and all other types of investments excluding primary home and other real estate investments). Respondents in the study were defined as aged 18 to 34 (millennials) with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000, or aged 18 to 34 who have investable assets between $20,000 and $50,000 with an annual income of at least $50,000; or aged 35-plus with investable assets between $50,000 and $250,000. We conducted an oversampling of 300 mass affluents in the following markets: San Francisco; Los Angeles; Orange County, California; Dallas; New Jersey; South Florida; Chicago; and Phoenix. The markets of Chicago and Phoenix were newly surveyed in this wave. The margin of error is +/-3.0 percent for the national sample and about +/-5.7 percent for the oversample markets, all reported at a 95 percent confidence level.

Merrill Edge® is available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (MLPF&S), and consists of the Merrill Edge Advisory Center™ (investment guidance) and self-directed online investing.

Investment products:

Are Not FDIC Insured  

   Are Not Bank Guaranteed

   May Lose Value

© 2015 Bank of America Corporation. All rights reserved.

News Releases and Additional Information

Press Releases


Research Materials


Executive Biographies

  • Dean Athanasia, president of Preferred and Small Business Banking, Bank of America
  • Aron Levine, managing director and head of Preferred Banking and Investments, Bank of America
  • 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.