is getting into the discount brokerage business. Bloomberg
and the Wall Street Journal
report that on Monday the wirehouse division of Bank of America
will launch an online brokerage system, Merrill Edge
(with trades costing up to $8.95), competing with the likes of E*Trade
and TD Ameritrade
.The program targets investors with less than $250,000 in assets.
"It's an integrated bank and brokerage offering," Dean Athanasia
, head of banking and the direct investment division of BofA's global wealth and investment management unit.
According to the WSJ, Mother Merrill will jump-start the new platform by moving over BofA's 500,000 existing online brokerage customers this summer. (That program, in turn, evolved from the former SureTrade
, an online brokerage with 350,000 customers that BofA predecessor Fleet Boston
bought back in 2001.)
Merrill currently boasts 15,000 advisors and works with about $2.2 trillion in assets. This latest may seem a bit like deja vu to students of Wall Street history, as Merrill began its life almost 90 years ago as an upstart discount brokerage.
Neil Anderson, Managing Editor
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