Project Thunder Week 7: Merrill Touts New Bank of America Rewards Program for High-Net-Worth Customers
Merrill Lynch this week underscored its push to cross-sell wealthy customers on Bank of America products with a new rewards program for customers with $1 million or more in their accounts.
Bank of America is adding two new “preferred rewards” tiers: “Diamond” for individuals with assets of at least $1 million and “Diamond Honors” for accounts with $10 million or more in their bank or brokerage accounts.
The changes were rolled out to Merrill brokers on Tuesday as part of its seventh week of its “Project Thunder” campaign aimed at addressing their feedback at a time when Merrill executives have said they are seeing elevated attrition to the competition.
The weekly update did not include details of the new benefits for the Diamond-tier customers. The highest tier of the rewards program had previously started at $100,000 and offered better rates on banking products such as interest “boosters” on savings accounts, lower loan rates and no-fee ATM transactions, according to a company website.
A new “Premium Rewards Elite” credit card would also be rolling out on November 22, according to the memo, which did not address whether Merrill brokers would be incentivized to sell the product. Some brokers have chafed at pitching their investment clients on bank products, but Merrill has previously offered cash bonuses to client associates who enroll brokerage customers in credit cards.
In another shift, the firm said it has “simplified” the process for approvals for hosting seminars and events by streamlining the review process and “reducing points of contact.”
The third focus of this week’s update was new tax planning tools. Merrill has added a “tax efficient management” service to clients in Merrill’s Investment Advisory Program that allows customers to pick and choose tax management strategies for their accounts.
The Project Thunder updates correspond with wide-ranging changes announced in previous weeks, many of which had similarly focused on more smoothly integrating banking and brokerage. Merrill also added a number of trust specialists, lending specialists and made it easier for brokers to access information on client mortgages.
Other tweaks include making it easier for brokers to take on customers who had marijuana-related businesses and allowing brokers to send non-branded greeting cards.