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Merrill EdgeGuided Investing Review: Comparison, Fees and Rates




Merrill Edge Guided Investing Overview and Fees


The Merrill Edge (ME) Guided Investing option allows the investor to have a hands-off investing experience with the support of ME’s investing professionals. Money contributed into this account is diversified according to investor risk tolerance, as assessed through a questionnaire upon opening the account. Account holders simply need to fund the account, and the ME investment team takes care of the rest.

As mentioned, portfolio diversification will vary based on your risk tolerance. An aggressive portfolio will have assets such as: approximately 89% in equity funds, 9% in fixed income, and 2% in cash holdings. These holdings will be further diversified among various markets with over 30% holdings Large Cap and 30% in International Equity.

The Guided Investing account requires a minimum of $5,000 to open an account. The account also comes with an annual fee of 0.45%, taken out incrementally each month (each month, account holders are charged .0375% of their account total). Fees associated with any ETFs in the portfolio will also apply.


Merrill Edge Giuded Investing Review


Positives:


Human Factor


One of the unique offerings of ME’s Guided Investment account is the human factor. While the Guided Investment accounts are considered robo-advisor accounts (see the list of robo advisors), these accounts are also overseen by a team of Merrill Edge professionals.

Merrill Edge account holders also have access to consultations with a Merrill Edge advisor, and the collaboration with Bank of America means that account advisors are more accessible in person. Many Bank of America branch locations have a Merrill Edge advisor on sight. Locations and appointments can easily be found and made online. While these professionals cannot directly manage how the account is funded, they can offer advice about the best ways to meet your financial goals.


Integration with Bank of America Accounts


One of the features that appeals to many account holders is the integration between Merrill Edge and Bank of America. This feature allows account holders to streamline the transfer of funds from their banking accounts into their investment accounts. Additionally, users can easily keep track of their investment holdings directly from the Bank of America accounts summary page.


Easy to Use Interface Online


The Merrill Edge interface is easy to navigate and offers resources that are easy to understand for beginners. The homepage shows all account balances as well as the day’s changes in account values.

Further investigation shows the breakdown of each account in terms of its specific holdings and their individual performance.


Merrill Edge Giuded Investing Review


The platform also offers many other tools, including retirement planning and other saving guides. More experienced users can also take advantage of the research available through the portal.


Transparency


The online platform is upfront about all fees and enables users to easily see the monthly and annual fees associated with the account.


Merrill Edge Robo Advisor Review


Other Positives


- Cash dividends and transfers into account are invested within 5 days of deposit
- Users are able to open an unlimited number of accounts to use for various saving purposes
- Guided Investing users take a survey upon opening their account to determine their risk tolerance for their portfolio (a standard practice across other platforms as well)


Negatives:


Mobile App


While the online platform holds its own, the mobile app has room for improvement. Checking account specifics often requires steps that seem unnecessary after the initial login.


Fees


The fees that come with the Guided Investment account are probably the biggest drawback. Similar guided investing options offered from other companies range from 0.25% (Wealthfront) to 0.30% (TD Ameritrade) annual fees, making ME’s fee of 0.45% well above that of its competitors. The 0.45% price tag, however, is still less than half the fee associated with most personalized financial advisors.


Other Merrill Edge Offerings


Merrill Edge offers two other account types in addition to the Guided Investing option: Self-Guided and Select Portfolio.


Self Guided


The Self-Guided account allows the client to have complete control over their investment and make the investment themselves, generally catering to more experienced investors and/or persons who do not want to pay any service fees. The client is responsible for making all of the account decisions and transactions. While they can take advantage of the ME investment research available on the online portal, ME advisors are unable to give any advice regarding specific investments.

While Self-Guided accounts do not have any fees associated with the accounts themselves or a minimum investment requirement to open an account, there are fees associated with purchases and transactions. Stock and ETF purchases cost $6.95 per trade while Mutual Fund fees will vary depending on the type of fund. Investors can qualify for up to 100 free trade each month through ME’s preferred reward program (minimum account balance of $50,000 between Bank of America Checking and associated Merrill Edge accounts for 30 free trades/month; minimum balance of $100,000 for 100 free trades/month).

Read detailed Merrill Edge self-directed investing review.


Select Portfolios


The Select Portfolio account offers more personalized attention and customization. This account also gives users the comfort of having a financial advisor and the ability to meet with your advisor to ensure financial goals are achieved – this account type requires a minimum of two financial advisory meetings each year.

This personalization, however, comes at a cost. Select Portfolio accounts require a $20,000 minimum initial investment and come with an annual fee of 0.85%, again taken out incrementally each month.

Users are able to switch between these account types as their investment needs and experience change.


Merrill Edge Guilded Investing Review Summary


Merrill Edge’s Guided Investing offers a hands-off investing approach for new and/or less savvy investors. The 0.45% annual fee is much higher than that of its competitors, which is this fund’s biggest drawback, especially considering there could be more fees that come with specific ETF holdings in the portfolio. Account holders can speak with representatives in person about their financial plans, goals, and needs, which is unique from most other platforms.



Merrill Edge Guilded Investing reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com on . Rating: 3



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