Tuesday, January 17, 2012

BofA simplifies trading fees, expands platform

Bank of America Corp. has simplified pricing for its Merrill Edge self-directed investing platform, it announced this morning.

The Charlotte bank eliminated the four-tiered pricing structure, with all stock and exchange-traded fund trades now costing $6.95. Clients who have more than $25,000 in cash balances with Merrill Edge or Bank of America will continue to receive 30 free trades per month.

The company also eliminated account minimums and maintenance fees for self-directed accounts. Merrill Edge head Alok Prasad said in a news release about 75 percent of the bank's self-directed investing clients would see lower per-trade fees, and no client would see fees increase as a result of the change.

"One of our top goals is to listen to our clients and deliver solutions that help them meet their needs in a way that is easy to understand," he said. "Simplifying our pricing structure met a key client need, while also allowing us to take an industry-leading position."

Bank of America also introduced a new streaming trading platform that provides clients with real-time market analysis, among other features, and additional online investment choices.

The changes are part of an ongoing effort to serve investment clients: the bank last year doubled the number of its Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisors, who provide guidance to clients with less than $250,000 to invest, to more than 1,200 across the U.S.