Bank of America may be foundering in some ways, but the bank's efforts to combine its middle-class reach with the Merrill Lynch brand are still ramping up.
The Merrill Edge unit recently added another 40 "financial solutions advisors" to its banking centers in the mid-Atlantic corridor, furthering its goal of having 1,000 people nationwide by the end of the year.
While the unit has been stung in the past by a sense that customer service isn't the best, the temptation to cross-sell to mass affluent banking customers is evidently overpowering.
About half the Merrill Edge advisors are primarily phone support while the rest actually work face to face with people who have at least $50,000 to invest.
Accounts with more than $250,000 are referred back to Merrill Lynch proper.
One way or another, someone will come up with an effective way to serve the mass affluent market. It might be an independent advisor with a great new way to distribute advice -- "model-driven" or otherwise.
That person will transform the industry as we know it.