Merrill Adds Mobile Tools, Annuities and Trust Specialists as Project Thunder Rolls On
Merrill Lynch’s eight-week Project Thunder campaign rolled on with its fifth round of updates on Wednesday that touted a new mobile app for broker phones, an expanding annuity line-up and more trust specialists.
The three changes, introduced in a weekly internal newsletter, are in-line with other procedural or policy tweaks that have been aimed at making it easier for the firm’s brokers to do business and ameliorating some common pain points for brokers at a time when Merrill has seen elevated attrition.
With the app update, which launched this month and will be expanded over the next year, brokers will be able to view client profiles and also take notes through Salesforce, Inc. using the app.
Previously, brokers had access to that information but had to use a company iPad with pre-loaded apps, according to a broker at the firm.
In the second category of changes, Merrill is also “responding to advisor feedback” by adding New York Life three-year fixed annuities in addition to Symetra and Pacific Life products that had been added in July and allowing for some annuity transactions to be completed by digital signature.
“This solution provides clients an opportunity to protect against downside risk and earn a fixed rate of return—while offering a shorter duration to allow for future flexibility,” the firm said in the memo.
Lastly, Merrill will also be adding four trust officers who will assist advisors in administering “sophisticated” customer plans in addition to staffing 20 other trust officer positions in local Merrill branches and regional centers for further support.
It will also be creating a new Estate Settlement Services team that “will accelerate review and acceptance of new estates,” according to the memo.
The Merrill broker said that the changes, particularly the new mobile app, “will be well received for some.”
“But once again, all things that should be part of the platform,” the broker, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Merrill’s campaign so far has introduced a range of tweaks, which it calls “wins.” It said in the first week that it would allow some veteran brokers to bring next-of-kin directly onto teams rather than forcing them to go through the bank training program. It would also make it easier for brokers to take on customers who had marijuana-related businesses and has made some policy changes, including allowing brokers to send non-branded greeting cards.
“Advisor attrition right now is higher than we’d like,” Merrill Lynch Wealth President Andy Sieg said in a town hall earlier this month in which he also told brokers to expect few changes to their 2022 compensation plan.
“It’s a topic we have talked about,” Sieg said of the attrition. “We are dealing with it.”