Merrill Edge, the investment firm’s online trading service that launched a decade ago, has $166 billion in assets today and more than 2.3 million accounts. And with robo advisors gaining in popularity with investors, particularly among millennials, Merrill Lynch is making sure it is embracing the technology the younger generation wants and expects from their service providers.
In a sweeping email interview with Think Advisors, Aron Levine, head of Merrill Edge, said a recent survey found that one in eight Americans or 13% are using a robo advisor or would consider using one. That increased to 22% when millennials were polled. Of those that use an online platform to invest, they said it makes them feel more empowered, investment savvy and knowledgeable. And while Levine said the company is constantly upgrading and enhancing its offering via Merrill Edge, it’s Merrill Edge Guided Investing online advisory platform that was launched last February, is also resonating well with all sorts of investors, giving them expert advice with the ability to invest online.
“With MEGI, investors can pursue their financial and life goals, whether they have a little or a lot to invest. We’re excited about this offering and look forward to continuing to bring together advice and technology while creating stronger relationships with investors,” Levine said in the interview.
[Looking for a quality broker but not sure where to start? Find the perfect fit at Investopedia's broker reviews.]
On the mobile front, Levine said that as more of its customers conduct their lives on the go, mobile is becoming increasingly important. They want access to planning tools and the ability to track their account activities, monitor markets, place trades and interact with data all on their mobile device. To meet that demand, Levine said Merrill Edge recently overhauled its mobile app so that investors can personalize their mobile trading experience and account management. The app works with both Android based phones and iPhones. "With this redesign, our clients benefit from better navigation, dynamic help capabilities and heat maps showing key investment trends, as well as interactive charts and streamlined investing capabilities,” Levine said. “Our mobile investing platform is the only platform that can send relevant, personalized market data and event notifications to clients based on their holdings and the securities they are following."
As for artificial intelligence and future technology Levine pointed to Bank of America, saying the company continues to invest in innovations and improve the user experience, focusing on emerging payment technology and AI to forge partnerships with tech companies, academics, and leaders in Silicon Valley so that it can better predict the changing needs of customers. Levine pointed to Zelle, the person-to-person payment service that Bank of America recently integrated into its mobile app. Zelle enables customers to send and receive payments between family and friends. The company also announced Erica, a voice and chat AI virtual assistant that will be integrated into the customer experience. “As we continue to develop Erica over time, she’ll provide even more proactive guidance to anticipate customers’ financial needs to help them stay on track and reach their financial goals on their terms. This functionality will be available to Bank of America customers later this year. Given the close integration between Bank of America and Merrill Edge, all clients benefit from these innovations,” he said.