Merrill Unveils Advisor-Supported SDBA

March 26, 2003 ( - Merrill Lynch now offers plan sponsors and their participants a new type of self-directed brokerage option - one with an advisor "attached."

The Retirement Group at Merrill Lynch has just unveiled its Self-Direct Brokerage account, an account option that gives plan sponsors the flexibility to create a simplified core menu of investment options for the majority of participants, while providing the ability for others to invest in what Merrill describes as an “almost unlimited” number of stocks, bonds, mutual funds and professionally managed products.

Advantage Options

At the same time, participants can now choose an account with or without access to a personal advisor, depending on their investment skills and needs. They also can switch between the two types of accounts as their needs change, and establish up to 10 separate accounts under the program.

Among the new options, Merrill now offers what it calls the sdb Advisor Advantage option, which includes a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor or team of advisors to address financial planning and investment needs outside a retirement plan, as well as account monitoring and access to managed solution products.

Additionally, the sdb Direct Advantage option provides access to Merrill’s online brokerage platform along with Merrill Lynch and third party research tools and education, for the more sophisticated or involved participant investor.

The new Self-Direct Brokerage account does allow plan sponsors to restrict usage of specific investment options, if desired, and provides an array of activity reports, as well as integrated trust reporting on a participant level.