Merrill Lynch Releases Unlimited Advantage Numbers

Merrill Lynch has released the first numbers on its new Unlimited Advantage account, which offers unlimited online trading as part of a lower-priced fee account.Between the announcement of the new account June 1 and the end of the third quarter, Merrill opened nearly 100,000 new Unlimited Advantage accounts with assets of more than $16 billion, the firm said in its third-quarter earnings release.About

Merrill Lynch has released the first numbers on its new Unlimited Advantage account, which offers unlimited online trading as part of a lower-priced fee account.

Between the announcement of the new account June 1 and the end of the third quarter, Merrill opened nearly 100,000 new Unlimited Advantage accounts with assets of more than $16 billion, the firm said in its third-quarter earnings release.

About 20 percent of the $16 billion in new money was transferred from outside the firm. The balance is from existing Merrill clients who converted from traditional commission-based accounts, says a spokesperson.

Another $24 billion came into the Unlimited Advantage program from Merrill's existing fee-based Asset Power and Financial Advantage accounts. These accounts were automatically converted to the new pricing structure.

The older accounts charged up to 1.5 percent to 2 percent--with limited trading. Unlimited Advantage charges 1 percent or less on assets, with no trading limits.

The firm claims it took five years to gather the $24 billion under the old programs. Merrill has total client assets of $1.5 trillion.--Rosalyn Retkwa

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