“My father and I initially joined the
Benjamin F. Edwards broker-dealer
almost 10 years ago … ,” Connor said.
“Today, we are extremely honored to
continue this partnership as the first
advisors to affiliate with Edwards
WADDELL & REED PLANS
Waddell & Reed is looking to move its
headquarters to Missouri from Overland
Park, Kansas, and expects to share an
update on these plans by
“Over the past two years
we have taken very deliberate and necessary steps to
strengthen the foundation of
our business,” according to
CEO and Chief Investment
Officer Phil Sanders.
If the financial firm —
which includes a broker-dealer — chooses to move to
St. Louis, it would join several
large rivals now based there,
like Wells Fargo Advisors,
Edward Jones and Stifel.
“As we look to the future, we must
have a workplace environment that
meets the needs of the workforce of
tomorrow, enabling us to attract and
retain top talent,” Sanders added.
Waddell & Reed’s earnings fell 31%
in the first quarter from the year-ago
period to $32.1 million, while revenues dropped 13% to $259.4 million.
For the full year 2018, profits grew
30% to $183.6 million; sales were flat
at $1.16 billion.
In terms of its BD, Waddell & Reed
has about $57 billion in assets under
Its affiliated independent advisors
and associates number 1,367 as of March
31, when it did not give a specific figure
for its FA headcount. In the fourth quar-
ter of 2018, the firm said it had 1,060
advisors and 343 associates, for a total
of 1,403 advisors and associates. A year
earlier, the BD had 1,367 reps and 265
associates, or 1,632 in total.
BOFA MERRILL ROBO PROGRAM
Bank of America recently added human
advisors to its robo-advice platform,
creating a hybrid offering aimed at the
mass-affluent market. The platform,
Merrill Guided Investing, now offers
an option to work with a financial solutions advisor (or FSA), along with an
improved digital platform.
“This new high-tech and high-touch
offering is designed to serve clients
who want both a ‘do it yourself’ experience together with help from an advisor,” according to Aron Levine, head of
Consumer Banking and Investments for
Bank of America.
For self-directed investors, the bank
offers the self-directed Merrill Edge
platform (since 2010). Clients who
opt not to use an advisor still can use
Merrill Guided Investing, launched in
2017, which includes some non-digital
portfolio management services. The two
programs had client assets of about $211
billion as of March 31.
Investors working in the new program with an FSA can discuss their long-term financial goals, develop a plan and
track progress toward those goals using
25 investment strategies vs. 15 strategies
with Merrill Guided Investing.
The new program has a $20,000 minimum and an annual fee of 0.85% vs. a
$5,000 minimum and yearly fee of 0.45%
with Merrill Guided Investing.
Merrill has about 2,700 FSAs and
plans to add another 300 by year-end.
The bank’s introduction of a hybrid
digital-advice model has been in
the works for some time, says Gavin
Spitzner, a wealth management and
technology consultant. “It was fully
expected given the success we’ve seen
of hybrid models (vs. pure
robos) across the industry.”
Personal Capital charges
about 0.89% for its model.
And BofA “sees that it can
charge more for the hybrid”
robo, according to the head of
Wealth Consulting Partners.
The Merrill news broke
around the same time that
Vanguard shared more
information on its plans to
give all financial advisors
the ability to use its investment modeling and related
“We’re continually looking for new
ways to enable advisors and expand
our existing suite of services to our
financial advisor clients,” the com-
pany said in a statement. “We often
receive requests for access to meth-
odologies that have been perfected in
our Personal Advisor Services offer-
ing, and we’re in the beginning stages
of building out those capabilities in
order to help advisors improve end
PAS has about $130 billion in assets
out of the $5.4 trillion in total assets
that Vanguard manages. According
to Spitzner, it’s unclear, though, if
Vanguard’s move “is part of a push into
[the] RIA custody space or more of a
tech/asset management pure play.”
Janet Levaux is editor-in-chief of Investment
Advisor. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s
introduction of a hybrid digital-
advice model has been in the
works for some time, says Gavin
Spitzner, a wealth management
and technology consultant: “It was
fully expected, given the success
we’ve seen of hybrid models (vs.
pure robos) across the industry.”