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Merrill Lynch taps mobile to improve customer service and boost revenue

Bank of America Corp.’s Merrill Lynch has launched mobile applications for Apple’s iPhone and iPad and Research In Motion’s BlackBerry devices for clients of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and Merrill Edge. 

Using the free mobile apps, clients can view their portfolio, holdings and account activity, as well as move money between linked Merrill Lynch brokerage and Bank of America N.A. banking accounts. Users can also trade stocks, mutual funds, ETFs and options in approved accounts.

“These mobile apps are part of our overall strategy to give our customers a full range of choices for how they want to do business with us,” said Alok Prasad, head of Merrill Edge at Bank of America, New York. “Our customers work with us through the banking centers, telephone, online banking, mobile banking, ATMs and text chat.

“These mobile apps give our clients even more choice and flexibility in how they conduct their banking and investing,” he said. “The target demographic is investors ages 35-54, people who want the choice and flexibility to be in touch with their finances on the go.”

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. offers a range of brokerage, investment advisory (including financial planning), banking, trust and other financial services and products.

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management makes available products and services offered by MLPF&S and other subsidiaries of Bank of America Corp.

Merrill Edge is the marketing name for two businesses: Merrill Edge Advisory Center, which offers team-based advice and guidance brokerage services; and a self-directed online investing platform.

Mobile brokerage
In addition to accessing account information, transferring funds and trading, the Merrill Lynch applications let users track the latest market news and headlines.

Merrill clients can also use the application to customize their watch lists, alerts and other online features.

The iPad app’s other features include personalized dashboards and access to the latest research reports from BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research.

Mr. Prasad said that Merrill Edge’s mass affluent investors have consistently told the company that they want to interact with it at their convenience and want multiple, coordinated access and entry points.

These new applications are designed to give clients control and flexibility, as well as help them make confident financial decisions.

These new brokerage applications are designed to complement the existing banking applications available through Bank of America.

Merrill Lynch is taking a number of approaches to drive awareness and adoption of the applications, ranging from direct communication with its customers to digital advertising. 

The firm sees apps for mobile devices as a way to improve customer service and boost revenue.

“Many of our customers want to be in touch with their finances on the go,” Mr. Prasad said. “The app provides them a user-friendly and convenient way to manage their assets, follow market news, conduct research, move money and put in trades.”

Final Take
Mo Rocca