Merrill Lynch’s new managed-account platform, Merrill Lynch One, is a breathtaking success, according to WealthManagement.com. But the claim doesn’t stand up to some offhand scrutiny.
The technology platform has had “the most successful launch of an investment advisory solution in the history of our firm,” Merrill executive Lorna Sabbia tells the website. “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.”
WealthManagement.com reports that “about $91 billion in assets have been transitioned” to the platform since its debut almost a year ago. That’s up from around $16 billion FA-IQ’s sister publication FundFire reported as having been transitioned in One’s first six months.
This sounds impressive — especially in light of WealthManagement.com’s claim that Merrill has seen “almost 100% adoption” of its new technology. But it’s worth noting that the firm, a unit of Bank of America, reported $821 billion in managed-account assets at the end of 2013. Perhaps the publication meant “almost 100%” of Merrill’s new managed-account assets are going to One.
And here’s another thought for those who marvel from afar at the new platform’s apparent irresistibility. Adoption isn’t voluntary. Merrill advisors have until 2016 to get all their managed-account assets off five legacy platforms — Merrill’s Consults, Mutual Fund Advisor, Personal Advisor, Personal Investment Advisory and Unified Managed Account — and into the new system. There’s no wiggle room.