Bank of America today announced that it will expand eligibility for commission-free online stock and ETF trades through Merrill Edge. This benefit has been available for clients enrolled in the higher tiers of the Preferred Rewards program for the past four years and will extend to all enrolled clients, regardless of tier, starting in the second quarter of this year.
Launched in 2014, Preferred Rewards is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive loyalty program based on a client’s full relationship across Bank of America banking and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. More than 5.25 million clients are currently enrolled in Preferred Rewards, with combined client banking and investment assets over $425 billion. Brokerage affiliates of Bank of America have been offering commission-free trades since 2006, even prior to the launch of Merrill Edge in 2010.
This is just one of several advancements Bank of America has made to their range of banking and investing capabilities available for mass affluent investors. The bank has invested $250 million over the last four years and plans to spend another $250 million over the next four years toward new capabilities that will give clients the power to match their life priorities to goals, receive a personalized plan, and pursue advice, guidance, research, and tools at their convenience and discretion – whether in person, on the phone, online, or through their mobile device.
“No one can match our combination of digital capabilities, reach, scale, and our full continuum of investment services to empower our clients to reach their goals and live their best financial lives,” said Aron Levine, head of Consumer Banking and Merrill Edge. “We give clients the choice to engage with us when, where, and how they want. Our aim is to be their trusted advisor throughout a lifetime of changes and triumphs, and we are just getting started.”
The news follows the recent announcement that Merrill Edge received the 2018 International Service Excellence Award in the Visionary category.
Bank of America is also investing in training the client professionals who will deliver these capabilities to clients. Its leadership training and development organization, The Academy, represents a significant investment in Merrill Edge’s client professionals across the firm, and has standardized best practices in advisor training and career pathing to empower a diverse pool of client-centric talent. Aspiring advisors receive in-role development to both empathize with client needs across all life stages and navigate the full continuum of wealth management solutions.
These investments follow a busy year for enhancements, awards, and milestones:
On January 3, Merrill Edge announced the launch of Fund Story, a new research experience for Merrill Edge self-directed clients designed to help them more easily evaluate mutual funds and ETFs, including the fund’s top holdings, costs and ratings. The new experience complements Stock Story, an award-winning stock research experience offering jargon-free stock analysis and insights; and Portfolio Story, a portfolio analysis and performance review tool launched last year.
Other Merrill Edge highlights from the year include:
“At Bank of America and Merrill Edge, we believe that client care begins by understanding the client and their needs and goals,” said Levine. “We have not only an opportunity, but a duty to make investments of this magnitude in our platform to benefit the financial lives of our clients. And we are uniquely positioned to make them without hesitation, aligned with the needs of our clients and unencumbered by the trappings of proprietary products.”
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, clients can view their Merrill Edge investment and Bank of America bank accounts on one page online. They also have access to easy-to-use tools, actionable insights, step-by-step guidance and competitive pricing for online trades.
Bank of America is one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 66 million consumer and small business clients with approximately 4,300 retail financial centers, including approximately 1,800 lending centers, 2,200 Merrill Edge investment centers and 1,500 business centers; approximately 16,300 ATMs; and award-winning digital banking with more than 36 million active users, including over 26 million mobile users. Bank of America is a global leader in wealth management, corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 3 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations across the United States, its territories and more than 35 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.
Merrill Edge was named the winner in the Visionary category by the Customer Service Institute of America in 2018. The judging criteria is based on the balanced scorecard methodology, review of the organizations to determine if the customer is the focus of the business and how that is supported through culture, processes, procedures, training, hiring practices, and daily actions. Rankings and recognition from the Customer Service Institute of America are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a current or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance results and such rankings should not be construed as an endorsement. Merrill Edge pays a fee to participate in the judging process.
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Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A., and affiliated banks, Members FDIC and wholly owned subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation.
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.
MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation.
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Reporters may contact:
Susan Atran, Bank of America