(Dow Jones) Bank of America Corp.'s legacy financial advisors are making the transition to Merrill Lynch's more expansive brokerage platform.
Half of the advisors were converted over the weekend and the other half will make the move in mid-September, according to people at the firm.
Bank of America Investment Services, or BAI, was the bank's advisor group with about 2,000 brokers before it acquired Merrill Lynch in December 2008, increasing its advisor force to 15,140.
Merrill Lynch has been known for its extensive retail brokerage platform, with sophisticated financial planning tools, investment products, transaction alerts and reporting capabilities. Former BAI advisors will have to become versed in the new features and technology, but for most it's likely to be worth the effort.
Merrill Lynch's platform gives advisors an integrated view of their clients' balances and activity at Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, as well as the ability to transfer money between their banking and brokerage accounts.
Clients will get a consolidated view, too, instead of having to look at both MyMerrill.com and the bank's online banking site.
BAI advisors began moving in to Merrill Lynch's offices in last year's fourth quarter. Integrating the two advisor groups goes along with efforts to cross-sell banking and brokerage products to clients.
The company also brought over bankers to the Merrill branches, called wealth-management bankers, to facilitate banking needs and client referrals from the banks.
The move to a consolidated banking and brokerage platform has already been available to legacy Merrill Lynch brokers. The full turn-around on the integration will come to less than two years post-acquisition, which is considered fairly quick for a deal of this size.
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