Bank of America has added a new investment offering to its Merrill Edge program for mass-affluent investors, the bank announced Wednesday.  The new offering — called Merrill Edge Select Portfolios — provides customers with access to actively managed, diversified portfolios and is aimed at the “middle class and the emerging affluent investor,” the bank said.  The minimum investment is $20,000.

The relatively low minimum investment “opens up a new population of customers” who otherwise might not be able to access this type of investment management solution, Alok Prasad, Merrill Edge executive, said in an interview.  Investors typically need at least $100,000 to receive the type of portfolio management the new program offers, he said. 

“We are lowering the balance requirements and providing a simple, straightforward way for a broader range of investors to access professionally managed investments,” Prasad explained in a press release.

The new product offers customers the choice of 10 diversified portfolios whose investments are allocated among mutual funds and exchange-traded funds generally invested in stocks, bonds and international investment products, the bank said. The portfolios range from conservative to aggressive.

In addition to a low balance requirement, the bank touts the product’s “low, annualized one percent management fee” as well as the Merrill Lynch investment professionals who manage and rebalance the portfolios on an ongoing basis.

The new offering responds to the “core needs’ of Merrill Edge customers who were looking for simplicity and flexibility in the management of their investments as well as tailored solutions, Prasad said.

The flat management fee and the low balance requirement help “keep it simple,” he said, and the selection of portfolios provide the customization clients need.

The Merrill Edge program provides mass-affluent customers access to professional investment guidance through advisors at both its call center and select bank branches, the bank said. Bank of America has more than 500 Merrill Edge advisors throughout its branches and 700 at its call center. The program also includes an online self-directed investing platform for customers who prefer to invest on their own.  

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