Thundering Herd advisors now have access to their very own virtual video studio.
Merrill Lynch announced Tuesday the launch of Merrill Video Pro, a tool meant to help financial advisors quickly and easily create video content for prospects and clients.
Video Pro follows the launch of Merrill Advisor Match, the firm’s new research-based digital platform for connecting investors seeking financial advice with a Merrill financial advisor, which debuted in October.
“This is all part of our modern Merrill strategy to support client acquisition and growth,” said Casey Franz, who is the head of platforms and capabilities at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
“This is just part of delivering a world-class digital experience,” she said, representing only a small portion of Merrill’s $11 billion annual investment in technology, of which $3.6 billion goes to strategic initiatives.
Judith Lee, founder and principal of the Lee Group in Bedminster, N.J., participated in the beta of the studio rollout and has already recorded two videos.
“It is very easy to use—but not as easy as it looks,” she said, referring to her own part of the process, “there were lots of do-overs to get it the way I liked.”
With Video Pro, advisors can create videos using a constantly expanding library of customizable content on topics that range from managing retirement goals to surviving market volatility to dealing with wealth transfers, among other subjects.
“This is something that anyone without training can try and get a good result, you have the ability to just practice over and over again, until you get a good result,” Lee said of the platform allowing unlimited retakes. Merrill also provides training and support materials for those that want it.
Gail Gross, director national business development at Merrill, provided WealthManagement.com a demo of the new platform.
“Advisors access Video Pro from the My Videos dashboard, which is the core location where all their scripts and videos are housed,” she said, proceeding through five steps, which starts with clicking the Create Videos button that in turn opens up a Template Library.
Advisors can start with preapproved scripts (there are currently 22) and customize them or write their own, have them approved by compliance, and then shoot their videos from their home or office. These then receive a review and sign-off from compliance. The maximum length of the videos is 50 seconds.
Videos can then be shared through e-mail, LinkedIn and on an advisor’s website where a carousel of up to seven can be hosted.
“In addition to their websites and LinkedIn, advisors can use their videos for events or seminars,” said Gross, who noted that by the end of March, advisors will be able to add videos to their Advisor Match portal profiles as well.
While the notion of recording videos for her work was a new concept for her, Lee said it comes very naturally to the next generation.
“I have two millennials on my team, both advisors, and one of them is my daughter; she looks at it as fun and being able to feel like she is more current and recognizes that this is a good way to appeal to peers,” Lee said.
Merrill’s Franz pointed out that this represents another tool to help advisors communicate and do so efficiently.
“Of course video is not new, we are not saying that video itself is revolutionary, but we think we are the only firm on the Street to have built a platform like this,” she said referring to the process of enabling recording of a video and getting it through compliance and posted all within a day.
Video Pro is the latest technology addition of several large initiatives rolled out by Bank of America Merrill Lynch for its advisors and clients over the past three years. In August 2020, the firm introduced its Personal Wealth Analysis technology that melded financial planning and asset management features and processes into a single experience. In 2021, the firm rolled out its Digital Wealth Overview, composed of automated personalized, interactive video presentations (a feature entirely separate from Video Pro) produced for individual clients, as well as a fully digital onboarding process.
“I’ve been an advisor for over 20 years and had relationships with some clients from their 50s and now they are in their 70s and we have the opportunity to turn their adult sons or daughters into clients and this is a tool that will help them get to know us,” said Lee, who intends to update her Merrill page with fresh videos on a monthly basis.