Merrill, in a Bid to Be More User Friendly, Revamping Account Statements to Remind Clients of Their Long-Term Goals

Merrill Lynch is planning to roll out new account statements featuring graphics that better illustrate clients’ investment goals and how close they are to achieving them. Whether the current analyst-conflict-of-interest mess was the cause, Merrill wasn’t saying.

Merrill Lynch is planning to roll out new account statements featuring graphics that better illustrate clients’ investment goals and how close they are to achieving them. Whether the current analyst-conflict-of-interest mess was the cause, Merrill wasn’t saying.

But whatever the reason, the new account statements would be an excellent addition for clients. The account statements are expected to feature the probability of clients achieving long-term goals and objectives based on their current investment portfolio, according to sources.

The project is still in the "discussion stages," says a Merrill spokesman, and, if approved, would be launched in the third quarter. The company would not elaborate.

A number of Merrill clients, according to one Merrill broker, have complained that the account statements do not show enough detail—more or less a laundry list of holdings and weightings. But clients want to know their how they are doing, so that they with their advisor can take necessary steps if a problem arises. "At this point, considering the market and the pressure Merrill has been under [from the investigation by the New York State Attorney General], we need to do all we can to get the clients’ trust back and get them back on our side," says one Merrill broker. "We’ve alienated them, to a degree, and since this industry is all about relationships and relationship building, there are certain steps you have to make to bridge a gap that was widening. This is a step in the right direction. Anything that helps the client, anything that makes something easier to comprehend, is worthwhile."

Several firms, including A.G. Edwards and Morgan Stanley, have enhanced the look of their statements in the last year or two.

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