Merrill Lynch has launched a new mutual fund wrap fee program incorporating 2,000 funds from 80 fund families. The non-discretionary account uses both load-waived and no-load funds.
The new account, Mutual Fund Advisor Selects, was introduced in mid-September. The minimum investment in Advisor Selects is $10,000, with a 125 basis point fee that scales down.
"This brings many of the funds our clients want under our roof and still provides them with the sound investment advice they seek," says Peter Amendolair, director of investment advisory services at Merrill.
Merrill reps are praising the new program. "I don't think this program is going to have any immediate impact on my business, but anything that brings customers into the fold can only be beneficial over the long haul," says one Merrill Lynch broker in New York.
The move by Merrill fits into a growing industry trend of matching no-load funds with fee-based advisers.
"As the public appetite continues to grow for no-load and low-load products, so is the realization that a financial professional is also desirable," says Geoff Bobroff, an East Greenwich, R.I.-based mutual fund consultant.
Merrill already offered some no-load funds in its Mutual Fund Advisor account, which includes discretionary rebalancing of portfolios.