Merrill Edge Review
Merrill Edge is an online broker offering self-directed and guided online investing. They provide the trading platforms, tools and personalised service to help all levels and types of investor pursue their individual financial goals.
Launched in June 2010, Merrill Edge are located in the USA and offered by BofA Securities who are part of the Bank of America’s retail banking division. Billions of client assets are invested through them. Merrill Edge was created to merge Bank of America Online Investing and Merrill Lynch’s research, investment tools, and call centre.
With Merrill Edge brokerage services, you can trade online stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits (CDs), options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds or opt for a professionally managed portfolio.
Pros / Cons
- Strict regulation
- Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC)
- Range of investment products
- Managed portfolios
- Flexible trading platforms
- Range of educational resources
- Limited countries
- Restricted leverage
- No forex, cryptos or CFDs
- No MetaTrader platform
- Limited funding options
- Slow account opening process
- Not the lowest fees
Merrill Edge Regulation
Merrill Edge are a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) scheme in the United States. The SIPC is an investor protection scheme established in order to protect clients against the loss of cash and securities in case the broker cannot fulfil their financial obligations. The SIPC protection is limited to $500,000 with a $250,000 limit for cash.
It should be noted that some investment products such as futures are not covered by the investor protection scheme and the protection is not available to all clients. Negative account balance protection is not provided. It is important to carefully read through all of the brokers terms and conditions so that you have a clear understanding of the protection offered before you open an account with any brokerage. Investment products are not FDIC insured and there is no bank guarantee, your investments may lose value.
Merrill Edge Countries
The broker is primarily geared towards US traders although they can accept clients from a limited number of non-US countries.
Merrill Edge Trading Platforms
Merrill Edge MarketPro®
The proprietary Merrill Edge MarketPro platform is intuitive and powerful, enabling users to gain access to real-time market analysis using the built-in indicators and analysis tools. It also includes award winning research whilst being easy enough to use for beginners and having enough functionality to satisfy the more experienced investor. To gain access to the platform you need to trade at least 15 times per quarter or maintain total combined balances of $50,000 or more in your Bank of America banking and Merrill Edge investment accounts.
MarketPro platform features:
- Intuitive and powerful trading platform
- Full trading capabilities and account access
- Real-time market analysis
- Streaming and interactive charts
- Multiple chart types and timeframes
- Fully customisable user interface
- Access to BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research
Merrill Edge Mobile App
The Merrill Edge mobile app gives you access to your account at anytime from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This is very useful for those who wish to view and manage their investment portfolio whilst on the go. Users can conveniently view linked Bank of America banking and Merrill Edge investing account balances—all from one device. The app is available for Android and iOS compatible devices. If you do not have a suitable device it can be accessed via the web browser from the Merrill Edge website.
Mobile app features:
- Fully customisable dashboard
- Interactive charts
- Heat maps
- Guidance & Retirement centre
- Planning tools & calculators
- Touch ID
- Portfolio & accounts views
- Extended-hours trading
- News, research & quotes
- Secure Message Centre
- Check deposit
- Move money
- Pay bills
Merrill Edge Trading Tools & Education
Merrill Edge offer a range of flexible trading tools to assist with market research and portfolio management. They have won awards for the global research and insights they provide that can help assist clients with making informed trading decisions.
Research is available from Morningstar, CFRA (powered by data from S&P Global) and BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. You can discover new opportunities and stay on top of the latest market trends and happenings with commentary that covers the topics which interest you and can have an impact on your investment strategy.
Customisable screeners can be used to narrow down your search for investments that match your requirements. You can filter results by performance, ratings and more. There are tools for building and monitoring your portfolio. The Merrill Lynch analysts evaluate and categorize ETFs and mutual funds in order to help find you relevant investments according to your own investment strategy.
There is a selection of educational resources to help increase your financial and investing knowledge. There are topics for all experience levels covered, including general investing, markets, trading strategies and more. They provide detailed videos, articles, webinars, etc.
- Third-party insights, analysis from Morningstar, CFRA
- BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research
- Timely perspectives, commentary on market conditions
- Powerful tools, customizable screeners
- Educational videos, articles and webinars
Merrill Edge Trading Instruments
This brokerage has a full range of investment products to choose from including a wide variety of stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits (CDs), options, ETFs, mutual funds and professionally managed portfolios. They do not currently offer CFDs, forex trading or cryptocurrencies.
- Stocks – Invest in the shares of publicly-traded companies across a variety of sectors. $6.95 per online equity and ETF trade
- Bonds – Invest in a broad range of Treasuries, municipal and corporate bonds and Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
- Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) – Trade similar to a stock with the diversification of a mutual fund. Offers the flexibility to hold and trade shares
- Mutual Funds – Invest in professionally managed funds that are aligned according to a variety of investment strategies and time periods
- Options – Execute options trades for $0.75 per contract. $6.95 per online trade + $0.75 per contract
- Managed Portfolios – Professionally managed portfolios with annual fees from 0.45% and a minimum $5,000 requirement
As fees can change and there may be additional fees not listed here, make sure you check on the official Merrill Edge website and are clear about all of the fees charged before opening an account.
Merrill Edge Trading Accounts & Fees
There is a choice of accounts offered by Merrill Edge dependant on your individual goals and requirements. The online brokerage account offers a streamlined investing experience and flat‑rate pricing. It can be opened as an individual, joint or custodial account.
If you have a Bank of America banking account, you can link it to a Merrill investing account so that you can conveniently access and manage your account online and via mobile devices. When logged in you can make instant transfers between the accounts.
Accounts have a preferred awards program where you get additional benefits as your account grows. Margin accounts are available although the margin rates are higher compared to other online brokerages, even if clients have large balances of $1 million or more.
Merrill Edge® Self-Directed
The self-directed investing platform is for those who wish to manage their own investment portfolio. It provides access to market research and insights, flexible trading tools, customer guidance and competitive flat-rate fees. Online stock & ETF fees start from $6.95 (other fees may apply) with a minimum investment of $0 required.
- Streamlined online investment
- Variety of flexible tools
- Step-by-step guidance
- Access to full range of investments
- In depth market insights and investing ideas
- Transparent pricing
- Unlimited online stock & ETF trades from $6.95 (other fees may apply)
- No trade or balance minimums
Merrill Guided Investing
This is a professionally managed investment portfolio that is designed to meet individual investors goals. It is built, monitored and rebalanced by an in-house team of professionals. The annual fee is 0.45% (other fees may apply) with a minimum investment of $5,000 required.
- Investing strategies for you and your goals
- Personalized online dashboard
- Adapts as needs change
- Socially responsible portfolios
- 45% annual fee (other fees may apply)
- Minimum $5,000 investment
Merrill Guided Investing (advisor)
There is also the option for guided investing with an advisor which gives you all of the same benefits along with an advisor to assist you with pursuing your goals. The annual fee is 0.85% (other fees may apply) with a minimum investment of $20,000 required.
- Get professional assistance to help establish your goals
- One-on-one professional advice
- Periodic account reviews with a dedicated advisor
- 85% annual fee (other fees may apply)
- Minimum $20,000 investment
Merrill Edge Customer Service
The Merrill Edge customer support team is available to offer step-by-step guidance and answer questions as and when you need them. Customer service can be reached 24/7 via telephone, online chat from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. ET to 6 p.m. ET on Saturdays. They can also be contacted by email.
Merrill Edge Deposit & Withdrawal
This online broker has a very limited amount of methods for funding your account, including Wire Transfer, Check, Electronic Bank Deposit (ACH), and External Securities Transfer. It would be more convenient for some clients if they offered credit/debit card funding and online payment processors such as PayPal, Skrill, Neteller, etc.
There may be some additional fees charged when using certain deposit or withdrawal methods. The processing time can vary depending on the method used. Bank transfers may take a few business days to clear.
Accounts can only be opened in USD currency which means that currency conversion fees can apply if you are not funding in this currency.
Merrill Edge Account Opening
You can apply to open an account via the Merrill Edge account opening link on the official website. You will need to select your account type and fill out some personal information that they may verify through third parties. Furthermore, you must provide a form of identification and proof of address. Once your account has been verified (which can take some time), you are able to fund it and start investing.
Merrill Edge Conclusion
Merrill Edge may be considered useful for those who already have a Bank of America account as they can be linked easily with a Merrill Edge online investing account. They do have a decent range of investment products along with flexible trading platforms and an abundance of educational resources.
However, they are lacking support for forex, CFD and cryptocurrency trading whilst they do not have the popular MetaTrader platform that is used by so many online traders around the world. The fees are also not the cheapest when compared to other online US brokers.
Trading complex instruments can come with a high risk. You should consider whether you understand how investments and trading work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing all of your money.