Imagine clients logging into their investment accounts and a three-minute interactive video detailing their entire financial life awaits them. On Monday, Merrill Lynch made that possible with its new Digital Wealth Overview tool.
Forget sending clients PDF pages of financial information they have to read. Instead, an adviser can opt to send clients a video experience, narrated by Bank of America’s digital assistant Erica, that gives a holistic view of their accounts at no additional cost for advisers who are part of the Merrill Lynch investment advisory program.
Merrill gave InvestmentNews a demo of the new video tool. Once a user plays the video, narrator Erica walks clients through a comprehensive view of their assets and liabilities, as well as a review of risk tolerance and time horizon attributes with an allocation chart.
The video is actually interactive as well, where clients can pause the experience and drill deeper where there are multiple accounts that are being rolled up into a portfolio group. On top of that, the performance chart is interactive and there’s also an interactive meeting scheduler, where if a client actually wants to stop and set up a meeting to discuss a certain topic, they can — within the video — engage with a calendar to set up a meeting with their adviser.
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A part of Merrill’s strategy is to give advisers control over the experience they provide clients, said Carl Swanson, head of advisor and client experience in the investment solutions group at Bank of America.
“We don’t think a narrated interactive video is going to replace what an adviser or an adviser team brings to the table,” he said. “But it certainly can complement it with an additional touchpoint to address clients who are particularly digitally engaged.”
Therefore, advisers have two options for sending account summaries. First, they can send a client a Personal Wealth Summary presentation, which is the new standard for portfolio summaries at Merrill Lynch, Swanson said. For advisers ready to take personalization and digital to the next level, they just have to click on the option to send a Digital Wealth Overview video to clients, which both include a summary of a client’s bank, brokerage and investment advisory accounts, as well as accounts held away with the client’s permission.
The video is then sent to a client’s MyMerrill account, and an email notification will be sent to clients so they know the video is waiting for them once they log in. “It’s delivered that way for security,” Swanson said. “[The video] contains highly sensitive information about the client and their assets, so we would never want to create a video like this and send that clip through email.”
Notably, the video requires no heavy lift from advisers — they don’t have to plug in any client information, they just have to agree to send the video. Advisers can also preview the video first before sending to clients, Swanson said.
Now that Merrill has the infrastructure set for these video account summaries, the Bank of America unit has plans to build out the video tool further to include a library of content for topics like impact-investing or technology stocks, Swanson said.
The launch of Digital Wealth Overview is the latest digital innovation Merrill has rolled out in the last year for its network of advisers. Last summer the wirehouse launched Personal Wealth Analysis just two months after it unveiled its tech-driven workstation, Client Engagement Workstation, a browser-like platform personalized for financial advisers to manage and connect with their clientele.
At the time, Kabir Sethi, head of digital wealth management for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank said the firm is undergoing a “major transformation” around wealth planning technology.
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