Almost a year into Merrill Lynch’s ambitious rollout of its new managed accounts platform, about $91 billion in assets have been transitioned onto the technology offering.
“Merrill Lynch One is the most successful launch of an investment advisory solution in the history of our firm,” said Lorna Sabbia, head of managed solutions for Merrill Lynch. “We're seeing and hearing exactly what we were hoping to — technology working as intended, advisor adoption outperforming all forecasts by a meaningful margin, and ongoing feedback about the many advantages advisors and clients are realizing with the new platform.”
The $100 million project aimed to combine the firm’s five legacy money management programs — Merrill’s Consults, Mutual Fund Advisor, Personal Advisor, Personal Investment Advisory and Unified Managed Account systems — into a single new platform.
Merrill Lynch rolled out Merrill Lynch One in September 2013, starting with a pilot group of early adopters with practices best suited for the new platform. Adoption rates for that group are now at 100 percent usage, according to spokesman Matthew Card.
From there, the brokerage unit launched its 12-month national rollout, starting in November with the 800 advisors in Merrill’s Heartland market. Nine months later, about 96 percent of advisors in this market are actively using the new platform, according to Card. Later markets, such as the Mid-American market (which rolled out in June), have slightly lower adoption rates (65 percent), but advisor usage is growing.
Merrill introduced the new platform to nine markets as of last week, with two markets (South Atlantic and Texas) still to go before the end of August. Not including’s the firm’s most recent rollout in the Southeast, 210,000 new and existing client accounts ($81 billion in assets) have been moved onto Merrill Lynch One as of June 30. About 9,300 of Merrill's 13,845 have access to the platform.
There’s no direct financial incentive for advisors to transition new clients onto the Merrill Lynch One platform, but Card says many advisors see the new technology as a time saver, noting it now only takes an advisor 10 minutes on average to enroll a new client.
“Merrill Lynch One has allowed us to bring all client activity onto one platform and, equally important, the conversion has provided our advisors the opportunity to demonstrate their full value, resulting in our clients entrusting us with more of their assets,” spokeswoman Susan McCabe said in an email Wednesday.
Advisors will have until Jan. 1, 2016 to completely transition their clients' assets to the new platform.