Merrill launches tool to help investors find advisors

What do you want to know

  • Merrill Advisor Match had been in development since late 2020, with input from advisors.
  • The tool connects people seeking financial advice with a Merrill advisor who best matches their needs and preferences.
  • On Tuesday, technical experts wondered how useful the tool would be for people trying to find an adviser.

Merrill Wealth Management on Tuesday launched a new online, research-based digital tool that the connection house says connects people looking for financial advice with a Merrill adviser who best matches their needs and preferences.

Merrill Advisor Match has been in development since late 2020, Jennifer Auerbach Rodriguez, head of customer acquisition, retention and strategic growth initiatives, told ThinkAdvisor during a recent briefing and demo of the new tool.

“Like many efforts at Merrill,” Advisor Match was developed “under the closest partnerships with our financial advisors,” she pointed out, noting that they included some of the best advisors in the business, who provided feedback on various aspects of the tool, including it being integrated directly into their CRM or Salesforce tool.

Just before the tool’s launch on Tuesday, 5,300 Merrill advisors across the United States were “ready to be matched” with potential customers using the tool, she said, adding that a marketing campaign is planned to promote it.

Dubious technical experts

Fintech experts, however, questioned how effective or useful the new tool would be for people who currently don’t have an advisor, a key market Merrill is targeting with the tool.

“If I was looking for an advisor, I’m not sure I wanted to use a tool that would limit the pool of advisors to just ML advisors,” said Joel Bruckenstein, head of Technology Tools for Today (T3). Tuesday by email. “That doesn’t make sense to me.”

Noting that “online advisor matching tools have been available for over a decade,” Timothy Welsh, president and founder of consulting firm Nexus Strategy, said the new Merrill tool is “not brand new or innovative and is limited to a single Merrill Advisor, making them all the same by definition since they can only use and recommend Merrill products.

Meanwhile, “successful platforms like IndyFin are truly open architecture, creating the ability for investors to get a truly bespoke match,” Welsh added.

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