Merrill Edge Review



Merrill Lynch needs no introduction, as one of the best known investment banks in North America they’ve been a Wall Street institution for over 90 years, currently managing in excess of $2.2 trillion in client’s funds.

Merrill Edge is the direct broking arm of Merrill Lynch, they offer all the standard services including stocks, ETFs and Options, they don’t offer Forex however so all you foreign exchange junkies will have to look elsewhere.

But as we’ve found out over the years on this blog, size and reputation count for nothing. So we signed up for an account with Merrill Edge to check them out for ourselves. Read our review for the verdict.

 

Fees & Commissions

  • Stocks and ETFs: $8.95 0-29 trades per quarter
  • Stocks and ETFs: $6.95 30+ trades per quarter
  • Stocks and ETFs: $4.95 60+ trades per quarter
  • Stocks and ETFs: 30 free online equities trades per month if total combined balances of $25,000 or more in your Bank of America, N.A. deposit accounts: Checking, savings, FDIC-insured CDs, FDIC-insured IRAs
  • Stocks and ETFs Agent assisted: $75 for Standard customers, $50 for Preferred and Superior
  • Options: $8.95 + $0.75/ 0-29 trades per quarter
  • Options: $6.95 + $0.75/ 30-59 trades per quarter
  • Options: $4.95 + $0.75/ 60+ trades per quarter
  • Merrill Edge Self-Directed Mutual Funds: 0.75% gross proceeds (Short-Term Redemption fee if held less than 90 days – $50 minimum, $250 maximum)

 

Website & Sign-up

The Merrill Edge website is your typical large institutional broker website, its all T & Cs with small menus and difficult navigation. They seem to subscribe to the mandate why use two words when you can use twenty.

As a side note the website was particularly slow when I was using it. Maybe this was an anomaly and not normal but it doesn’t bode well for the reliability of their platform.

To test out the service we signed up for a General Investment Account which gives us access to all the major markets with the exception of Forex.

The sign-up process was pretty painless as it is with most brokers these days. The entire process can be completed online in a matter of a few minutes. It’s then just a matter of waiting for the money to transfer into your account and start trading.

 

Trading Platform & Tools

The Merrill Edge platform is actually fairly basic, it has the look of a professional platform but there’s no way Merrill Lynch professional trader’s use this platform as It’s severely lacking in professional grade tools.

There are no advanced stock screeners, or the ability to build options chains. All you get is the standard streaming real time quotes and the ability to customize trade alerts, even this service is limited only allowing you to set price and movement alerts.

You do get the opportunity to add research from both Merrill Research and Morning Star, this service is provided to you free of charge but there are better research suppliers available from other brokers to be honest.

The platform has a full mobile version available for iPhone, iPad and Blackberry devices, no news on Android but I’m sure it’s in development. The mobile platform has full functionality so you can execute trades and view your account whilst on the move.

merrill-edge-mobile-devices

 

Whilst using the platform I noticed quite severe lag during busy periods, this is going to be a major problem for serious traders and quite a few intermediate ones. If the stock moves significantly in that period you could be looking at a serious loss.

In all I was pretty disappointed with the Merrill Platform, I expected better form a company like Merrill Lynch. It offers only enough tools to satisfy a beginner but I get the feeling that’s not who this platform is aimed at.

 

Pros

  • Free checking account
  • Great research tools
  • Free DRIPs (have to call to request it)

Cons

  • Best commissions only for customers with over 1 million account balance
  • Account maintenance fee: $25/quarter (waived if $50,000 balance or make 15 trades in quarter)
  • High margin rates
  • Limited, badly designed trading tools and charts
  • Terrible executions at busy times of the day
  • Technical issues
  • Customer service complaints
  • Mutual funds Self-Directed Short-Term Redemption fee if held less than 90 days: 0.75% gross proceeds, $50 minimum, $250 maximum

 

Summary

I had higher expectations from Merrill Edge I really did, their trading platform lacks edge (no pun intended) their pricing is not particularly competitive and their own research is lacking.

I have tried hard to think of the kind of traders that would be well suited to Merrill Edge and I’m struggling to think of any.

The fact is there are brokers around that offer better platforms, cheaper fees, a greater range of services and more reliable execution.

Merrill seem to be content offering the very least they can get away with to existing Merrill Lynch customers to stop them going elsewhere, and that’s just not good enough in this day and age.

So if you’re a beginner or smaller trader you’re much better off joining Zecco or TradeKing who have trading platforms and training specifically tailored towards rookies.

If you’re more of an intermediate trader you’d be better off with either OptionsHouse who have an excellent platform with very competitive fees or TD Ameritrade who are more expensive but offer one of the best trading platforms and tool sets around.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright 2008 - 2011 - howtotradestocks.org - All Rights Reserved

Discount Stock Brokers | Compare Online Brokers | Penny Stock Brokers | Sitemap | Privacy/Affiliate