B of A Extends Commission-Free Trades to All Preferred Rewards Members

Bank of America announced that it will expand eligibility for commission-free online stock and ETF trades through Merrill Edge. This benefit has been available for clients enrolled in the higher tiers of the Preferred Rewards program for the past four years and will extend to all enrolled clients, regardless of tier, starting in the second quarter of this year.

Launched in 2014, Preferred Rewards is a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive loyalty program based on a client’s full relationship across Bank of America banking and/or Merrill Edge and Merrill Lynch investment accounts. More than 5.25 million clients are currently enrolled in Preferred Rewards, with combined client banking and investment assets over $425 billion. Brokerage affiliates of Bank of America have been offering commission-free trades since 2006, even prior to the launch of Merrill Edge in 2010.

This is just one of several advancements Bank of America has made to their range of banking and investing capabilities available for mass affluent investors. The bank has invested $250 million over the last four years and plans to spend another $250 million over the next four years toward new capabilities that will give clients the power to match their life priorities to goals, receive a personalized plan, and pursue advice, guidance, research, and tools at their convenience and discretion – whether in person, on the phone, online, or through their mobile device.

The news follows the recent announcement that Merrill Edge received the 2018 International Service Excellence Award in the Visionary category.

Bank of America is also investing in training the client professionals who will deliver these capabilities to clients. Its leadership training and development organization, The Academy, represents a significant investment in Merrill Edge’s client professionals across the firm, and has standardized best practices in advisor training and career pathing to empower a diverse pool of client-centric talent. Aspiring advisors receive in-role development to both empathize with client needs across all life stages and navigate the full continuum of wealth management solutions.

These investments follow a busy year for enhancements, awards, and milestones:

On January 3, Merrill Edge announced the launch of Fund Story, a new research experience for Merrill Edge self-directed clients designed to help them more easily evaluate mutual funds and ETFs, including the fund’s top holdings, costs and ratings. The new experience complements Stock Story, an award-winning stock research experience offering jargon-free stock analysis and insights; and Portfolio Story, a portfolio analysis and performance review tool launched last year.

Other Merrill Edge highlights from the year include:

  • Enabled moving across our banking and investing apps without needing to re-authenticate.
  • Continued the momentum of our Merrill Edge Guided Investing platform.
  • Were awarded Barron’s 2018 Best Online Broker for “In-Person Service,” “Long-Term Investing,” and “Investor Education.”
  • Eclipsed $186 billion in Merrill Edge investment assets, up over three-fold since 2010 and the fastest-growing among peers.
  • Surpassed 2.6 million client investment accounts by deepening relationships across our 66 million clients.

“At Bank of America and Merrill Edge, we believe that client care begins by understanding the client and their needs and goals,” said Levine. “We have not only an opportunity, but a duty to make investments of this magnitude in our platform to benefit the financial lives of our clients. And we are uniquely positioned to make them without hesitation, aligned with the needs of our clients and unencumbered by the trappings of proprietary products.”