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Merrill Guided Investing FAQs

About Merrill Guided Investing

How do I know if Merrill Guided Investing is right for me?

Merrill Guided Investing may be right for you if:
  • You're looking for an easy, low-cost way to invest for your goal online through a professionally-managed portfolio vs. doing it yourself.
  • You want an investment strategy built and managed by investment professionals in portfolio construction and investment selection by the Chief Investment Office ("CIO").

What types of accounts can I open?

Currently you can open a Merrill Edge individual brokerage account or a Traditional or Roth IRA. You can also roll over a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement plan. Consider all of your choicesConsider all of your choices and learn if a Rollover IRA may be right for you.Footnote 1
Merrill Guided Investing does not yet offer trusts or inherited IRAs. These accounts will be offered in the future. Please note that Guided Investing accounts do not allow power-of-attorney access. For any other types of accounts, please contact us or go to Open an account

Is there a minimum required to invest in a Guided Investing account?

Yes. There is a $5,000 minimum for each Guided Investing account.

What are the costs for the Guided Investing program?

You can get started with Guided Investing for as little as $5,000. There is a low 0.45% annual fee, which is charged monthly. For example, if your month-end balance is $10,000, next month's fee would be just $3.75. Other fees may apply.Footnote asterisk *
There are no trading commissions when our portfolio managers buy or sell ETFs in your account's portfolio. However, there are exchange fees charged by third parties, such as a transaction fee of between $0.01 to $0.03 per $1,000 of the principal for sell orders. In addition, there are fees associated with investing in ETFs, which are listed in each ETF prospectus under "Expenses and Charges." For more details about fees, please review the Program Brochure (PDF).
Footnote asterisk 
Other fees may apply. Sales are subject to a transaction fee of between $0.01 and $0.03 per $1,000 of principal. There are costs associated with owning ETFs. To learn more about Merrill pricing, visit our Pricing page.

How do I track my portfolio's performance?

Once you're enrolled, you can track the performance of your portfolio on your Guided Investing dashboard.

Investment Strategy and Portfolio Management

How is Merrill Guided Investing different from robo advisors that make purely computer-driven investment decisions and other online investing programs?

Many online investment advisory programs use technology to make automatic, computer-driven portfolio adjustments based on mathematical rules or algorithms, which is why they are sometimes called "robo advisors."
Merrill Guided Investing takes a different approach that combines:
  • The efficiency and power of technology to both recommend an investment strategy (which is based on your goal, risk tolerance and investment time horizon) and quickly process the investment decisions our investment professionals make on your behalf
  • Management by Merrill Lynch investment professionals who use a disciplined approach to asset allocation, portfolio construction and investment selection
  • Online access so you know where your portfolio is positioned at all times

How are investment strategies determined for Guided Investing accounts?

While technology can simplify investing and deliver real-time information, it's no substitute for human insight and skill. That's why Merrill Edge relies on the investment professionals from the Chief Investment Office ("CIO") team to manage the portfolio strategies and investment selection for all of the Guided Investing accounts.
The CIO investment professionals focus on asset allocation, investment analysis and portfolio construction for Merrill Guided Investing accounts. Their work involves:
  • Creating strategic asset allocation models
  • Building the investment portfolios
  • Making short-term tactical adjustments
  • Review and selection of ETFs for the strategies
  • Strategy review and oversight

How do you determine the right investment strategy for me?

First, you'll select a goal and answer some questions online about how much you want to invest and when you think you'll need to access your funds. Next, you'll answer questions to determine the risk tolerance for your goal. Finally, you'll review the strategy based on the information you provided. If you agree, you can then go ahead and open your account.

How is Guided Investing different from working with a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™?

Guided Investing strategies are built and managed behind the scenes by our investment professionals in the Chief Investment Office ("CIO"). This approach allows us to combine innovative technology with professional guidance to offer a low-cost investment account.
Although you won't invest with the advice of a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor™, you can always call us 24/7 to talk with an investment specialist if you have questions about your account.
If you prefer to receive advice from a Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor, we have that option available. You can find a Financial Solutions Advisor at a Bank of America financial center near you. Find a local Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisor

What is an ETF and how are ETFs selected for my portfolio?

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) offer diversified exposure to a group of securities made up of stocks or bonds. ETFs trade like a stock, so prices change throughout the day. Investors can buy and sell at any time during market hours, providing more liquidity and flexibility.
The ETFs selected for Guided Investing portfolios must pass a rigorous screening by the Chief Investment Office ("CIO"). Our investment professionals choose exchange traded funds (ETFs) that fulfill the asset allocation for each strategy. Our goal is to look for ETFs in each asset class that have the potential to contribute to the portfolio's returns.

Does my Guided Investing account balance count toward my Preferred Rewards tier balance requirement?

Yes. Preferred Rewards lets you enjoy real benefits and rewards with your Merrill Edge and Bank of America® account balances. Learn more about Preferred Rewards

How and when is my account rebalanced?

Merrill Guided Investing strategies are actively managed and are not rebalanced on timed intervals or periods. Merrill Lynch may update your strategy's allocation based on overall market conditions and potential opportunities to lower or take on more risk.
Like all securities, the value of the ETFs in your account will rise and fall over time. Our portfolio managers will monitor your account for any changes from your strategy's target asset allocation and rebalance your account as needed. Your account may also be rebalanced due to contributions or withdrawals or other flows of assets into or out of your account.

Help when you want it
Turn to us when you have questions or need help getting the most out of your investing experience. Learn more about Merrill Guided InvestingLearn more about Merrill Guided Investing
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Call 24/7
You have choices about what to do with your employer-sponsored retirement plan accounts. Depending on your financial circumstances, needs and goals, you may choose to roll over to an IRA or convert to a Roth IRA, roll over an employer-sponsored plan from your old job to your new employer, take a distribution, or leave the account where it is. Each choice may offer different investment options and services, fees and expenses, withdrawal options, required minimum distributions, tax treatment, and different types of protection from creditors and legal judgments. These are complex choices and should be considered with care. Visit our Rollover IRA page or call a Merrill rollover specialist at 888.637.3343 for more information about your choices.
Asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

Please review the applicable Merrill Guided Investing Program Brochure (PDF) or Merrill Guided Investing with Advisor Program Brochure (PDF) for information including pricing, rebalancing, and the details of the investment advisory program. Your recommended investment strategy will be based solely on the information you provide to us for this specific investment goal and is separate from any other advisory program offered with us. If there are multiple owners on this account, the information you provide should reflect the views and circumstances of all owners on the account. If you are the custodian of this account for the benefit of another person, please keep in mind that these assets will be invested for the benefit of the other person. Merrill Guided Investing is offered with and without an advisor. Merrill, Merrill Lynch, and/or Merrill Edge investment advisory programs are offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith Incorporated ("MLPF&S"). MLPF&S and Managed Account Advisors LLC ("MAA") are registered investment advisers. Investment advisor registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training.
The Chief Investment Office (CIO) develops the investment strategies for Merrill Guided Investing and Merrill Guided Investing with Advisor, including providing its recommendations of ETFs, mutual funds and related asset allocations. Managed Account Advisors LLC (MAA), Merrill's affiliate, is the overlay portfolio manager responsible for implementing the Merrill Guided Investing strategies for client accounts, including facilitating the purchase & sale of ETFs and mutual funds in client accounts and updating account asset allocations when the CIO's recommendations change while also implementing any applicable individual client or firm restriction(s).

You may also be able to obtain the same or similar services or types of investments through other programs and services, both investment advisory and brokerage, offered by Merrill; these may be available at lower or higher fees than charged by the Program. The services that you receive by investing through Merrill Guided Investing or Merrill Guided Investing with Advisor will be different from the services you receive through other programs. You may also be able to obtain some or all of these types of services from other firms, and if they are available, the fees associated with them may be lower or higher than the fees we charge.
You may be able to roll over to a Traditional or Roth IRA, roll over to a 401(k) at a new employer, take a distribution, or leave the account where it is, depending on your unique financial needs and retirement goals. Each option presents different benefits and limitations with regard to available investment choices and services, fees and expenses, withdrawal rules, required minimum distributions, tax treatment, and protection from creditors and legal judgments. Additionally there are limits to how often and when you can roll over your account. Be sure to review your Rollover IRA choices.

Based upon IRS interpretation of an existing rule, you can make only one rollover from an IRA to another (or the same) IRA in any 12-month period, regardless of the number of IRAs you own. You can, however, continue to make as many trustee-to-trustee transfers between IRAs as you want. You can also make as many rollovers from traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs ("conversions") as you want."

There is a single, 5-year holding period when determining whether earnings can be withdrawn federally tax-free as part of a qualified distribution from a Roth IRA. This period begins January 1 of the year of the first contribution to any Roth IRA account.

Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

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Investing in securities involves risks, and there is always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities.

Asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing do not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.
Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

This material is not intended as a recommendation, offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security or investment strategy. Merrill offers a broad range of brokerage, investment advisory (including financial planning) and other services. Additional information is available in our Client Relationship Summary (PDF).

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as "MLPF&S" or "Merrill") makes available certain investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by companies that are affiliates of Bank of America Corporation ("BofA Corp."). MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer, a registered investment adviser, Member Securities Investor Protection (SIPC) popup and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation ("BofA Corp").
Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc. (MLLA) is a licensed insurance agency and wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp.

Banking products are provided by Bank of America, N.A. and affiliated banks, Members FDIC and wholly owned subsidiaries of Bank of America Corporation.

Investment products offered through MLPF&S and insurance and annuity products offered through MLLA:
Are Not FDIC Insured Are Not Bank Guaranteed May Lose Value
Are Not Deposits Are Not Insured by Any Federal Government Agency Are Not a Condition to Any Banking Service or Activity

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