David Tyrie, managing director and head of retirement and personal wealth solutions, introduced the new Merrill Lynch Clear financial and retirement planning framework during a networking event in New York. The framework is presented and leveraged through a unified mobile and tablet application, he explains, and brings together the seven “distinct life priorities” most commonly cited by Merrill Lynch clients, both anecdotally and across the firm’s extensive body of financial planning research.
These priorities include health, home, family, finances, giving, work and leisure, Tyrie says. The Merrill Lynch Clear program, delivered through the firm’s adviser network, offers extensive education and next-best-step client advice across these areas, Tyrie explains. But more importantly, he says, the framework is rich with interactive tools and calculators that allow clients to start thinking about the way their unique goals and aspirations across these seven areas apply to asset allocations and portfolio-building decisions.
“After undertaking what we believe is really an unprecedented amount of research on the question of what our clients are concerned about, we’re starting to learn that really all of it can be boiled down into some form of these seven categories,” Tyrie explains. “As you know, retirement investors aren’t interested in hearing about lump sums anymore. They want to know what they will need to fund their own specific retirement, and how that might be achieved.”
Specialist advisers across Merrill Lynch’s individual wealth management and retirement plan segments are already receiving specialized training on helping clients apply the framework, Tyrie says. Taken together, the framework and accompanying adviser resources will help clients better connect daily financial matters with long-term, holistic retirement planning needs—especially when it comes to the most challenging aspects of retirement, such as when to claim Social Security or how to plan for ballooning medical expenses late in life.
The firm hopes the framework will also lead to more personally meaningful conversations for clients, helping them better determine goals and priorities for an uncertain future.
Andy Sieg, Bank of American Merrill Lynch’s head of global wealth and retirement solutions, says the framework was originally built with Baby Boomers in mind, but it should also be helpful for younger generations of savers and investors who are unsure how to start amassing wealth effectively.
“Retirement today is a totally different experience than it was even in the recent past,” he says. “Baby Boomers are living later in life in ways no other generation ever has. This requires a bold new approach to helping people think about their lives in a comprehensive way, explore opportunities and challenges, and seek peace of mind.”
Among the framework’s new tools is a series of “discovery apps” created to help facilitate deeper conversations between clients and advisers. The first apps in the expanding discovery series focus on the exploration of the seven life priorities, along with matters relating to Social Security, health care, lifetime income needs and investment personality. Clients can input their personal information on all these subjects directly into the application to generate dynamic feedback utilizing illustrations, educational resources and interactive exercises.
Through Merrill Lynch Clear, clients also gain the support of the firm’s in-house retirement, wealth, trust and insurance specialists. More information is available through the Merrill Lynch website, at www.ml.com/retire.