Bank of America ’s Merrill unit is rounding out its wealth management offerings by launching digital investment management coupled with human advice.
Launched Monday, “Merrill Guided Investing with an Advisor” offers investors digital access to 25 different investment strategies as well as assistance from human advisors.
Those salaried employees, which BofA calls “Financial Solutions Advisors,” will help clients to identify life priorities and develop plans toward reaching their financial goals, according to a news release.
The offering fills a gap in Merrill’s lineup between the digital-only version of Guided Investing – which offers only 15 investment strategies and launched in early 2017 – and traditional, full-service advice from the thundering herd at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
It also falls into a market niche already occupied by hybrid robo-advisor services from the likes of Charles Schwab , Vanguard and pioneering robo firm Betterment.
Merrill eschews the term “robo,” however, because humans in its Chief Investment Office construct and manage the Guided Investing portfolios. “Unlike the typical robo-advisors that are more algorithmic black boxes, we’re leveraging the Chief Investment Office no differently than how Merrill Lynch Wealth Management or the private bank does,” Aron Levine, the head of Consumer Banking & Investments at Bank of America, tells Barron’s Advisor.
Merrill’s new hybrid offering has a $20,000 account minimum and charges an annual fee of 0.85% of assets under management. That compares with $5,000 and 0.45% for the digital-only version of Guided Investing.