Author Topic: Anyone have experience with Merril Edge?  (Read 1264 times)

dragonstache

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Anyone have experience with Merril Edge?
« on: August 24, 2016, 07:04:19 PM »
Hey all, thanks in advance for the advice. Really hoping to not screw up posting as I am a long time lurker first time poster!
I am a mid twenties single guy living in a big american city. I am a graduate student in a pretty stable, lucrative, professional field (although thats not the only reason I do it). Fortunately, my tuition and a portion of my living expenses is covered with scholarships, but I do have a loan for the rest of my living expenses (currently ~22K, will probably closer to 40K by the time I graduate).
Unfortunately, I lost my grandmother last year. She was very old and sick, died peacefully, so thank you in advance for the "I'm sorrys" but it is not necessary. She was a good saver, and I was her only heir, so I have inherited a sizable (~70k) account at merryl lynch edge with her.
I am very grateful for this opportunity to get a head start on my finances. I have been a long time reader of MMM, and started my own Roth IRA years ago in college (although I've been unfortunately unable to contribute recently as I've had no income!). I want to achieve FI as early as possible to be able to do my profession, medicine, more for love and for people who really need it rather than just for a paycheck, as I see so many other doctors doing. I also really value my free time and time with family, so I would like to achieve FI for that reason as well.
Consequently, my thinking is to try and save this money as much as possible. I know the conventional thinking here is emergency fund-->pay off loans/max out retirement accounts (depending on circumstances)-->save as much as you can for retirement. Furthermore, I know vanguard with an appropriate risk/volatility level for your investment timeline and stomach is quite popular. For my ROTH IRA I have a Vanguard global index fund, reflecting my increased risk tolerability. I hardly ever check it, and I'm fine with that.
Originally I was thinking about transferring this account over to vanguard. I was thinking about using it to live on for the next couple of years as well to minimize my loans. However, I am getting cold feet. I have never even been near this much money before, and I guess my thinking now is to stick with Merril Lynch at least for the time being. My (admittedly emotional) rationale is that if it was good enough for my grandmother, its good enough there for at least a little bit.
My question is, does anyone have any experience or insight with them? What kinds of questions should I be asking? I know investment advisors are often looked down upon, but I believe I'll be assigned one for this account. My goal is to not get taken advantage of, allow the money to grow, to achieve FI as soon as possible, but I would kind of feel like a fool if I transferred it over to vanguard tomorrow in a small cap index fund and the market tanked tomorrow. So I think for now I want to stick with Merril Lynch
Anyone have any thoughts?
Thanks in advance!

Another Reader

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Re: Anyone have experience with Merril Edge?
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2016, 07:52:13 PM »
Not my first choice, but have a look at your grandmother's investments before you do anything.  Merrill Edge is the "low cost" side of Merrill Lynch.  If the investments were with Merrill Lynch, they might be in high fee funds or similar investments you would want to consider selling.  If your grandmother was a savvy investor, she may have bought low cost funds and ETF's through Merrill Edge, and they might be worth holding.

Having that much money with Merrill also entitles you to some perks with Bank of America, which owns Merrill Lynch.  At the $50k level, you get a boost to your B of A credit card rewards.  Instead of 1, 2, or 3 percent cash back, you get a 50 percent rewards bonus, so the cash back is 1.5, 3, or 4.5 percent.  If you bank with B of A and your total account balances across all accounts is $100k or more, the bonus increases to 75 percent.

If the money is with Merrill Edge, you can decline the adviser.  If the account is with the regular Merrill, you need to examine the investments and see if they are suitable.  There will likely be someone assigned to the account.

In your shoes, I would not do anything until I spent some time learning about investing.  Lots of resources cited here and on other forums, such as Bogleheads.  Do some reading and ask lots of questions before making a lot of changes.

GuitarMan

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Re: Anyone have experience with Merril Edge?
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2016, 11:01:34 AM »
I had a Merril Edge account for 7 years and I got rid of it and moved my money back to Vanguard where it should have stayed.   It was a bit of an experiment as I had gotten a new job and was going to be making more money and have stock options.  I wanted to get a "pro" involved to make sure I was making good decisions.  Not that the guy wasn't honest and try his best, but their model is one of higher fee funds.  At the beginning the pitch was "by using actively managed funds we can be more nimble and react to market events- avoid big losses and make better returns".  Well that was a load of crap.  When the crash of '08 hit my account got whacked.  Far more than it would have if I had left it in indexes.  When I asked my Merril guy why it did so poorly his answer was "yeah, sorry, we missed that one".  Thanks!!!  His story was always the same - think long term, don't overreact, etc etc.  After 7 years with him he had missed his own benchmarks 5 years.  That was enough for me.  After slightly tense exchanges both on the phone and in person I closed the account and moved the money to Vanguard.  Haven't looked back since and don't regret the extra taxes I paid that year because it will be far better in the long run.

Bottom line is I don't believe most people need them.  Just go to Vanguard, invest in index funds and be done.  If you want super easy - invest in the Target Date funds and they will diversify for you.  The Merril model (and the other financial companies) is to choose actively managed funds with high fees to generate income.  My guy drove an 80,000 Benz by the way. 

PS- as a last resort my Merril guy offered me an index option but even that was expensive at 1%.  Vanguard is a fraction of that.

Good luck.

GM