The company said the launch does not conflict with its decision last November to outsource its small plan recordkeeping and administration to BISYS. James Davey, director of strategic alliances for the retirement group, told PLANSPONSOR.com that Merrill’s sale did not indicate that it was exiting the small plan market space altogether.
“With BISYS, we sold off the administration aspect of our small market business,” he says. “The whole reason we created this network was to complement our internal offerings in the mid-sized market. We formed the network to create the availability for our distribution, so that our financial advisors would always have a viable product in the retirement community.”
MLConnect was launched last week. BISYS and PAYCHEX are on board as alliance members. The network will combine the retirement offerings of Merrill Lynch and its expertise with the offerings of its alliance partners. Clients are being accepted immediately.
Clients with up to $3 million in assets may choose from arrangements with BISYS and PAYCHEX. Those over $3 million to $50 million may choose from arrangements with INVESCO, MFS, OppenheimerFunds and State Street Research and Management Company.
Additionally, each program provides educational materials such as interactive tools to assist employees with portfolio management, online account management, automated phone access, quarterly statements and performance reporting.
Davey said that Merrill expects to begin conversions to the platform by January 1. And, while Merrill will do much of the investment management, its alliance partners will also incorporate their proprietary products into the mix. The partners will also see to the recordkeeping and administration aspects of the new plans.