A while ago my older son, who has a B of A bank account, told me he was going to link it to a Merrill Edge account (the discount brokerage arm of Merrill Lynch) he was going to open.
I turned up my nose. The Merrill I knew was all about building and maintaining a suburb sales force. Investment research and mutual fund performance always came in a distant second.
Several things have changed my mind:
1. Most of the top-notch research houses gutted their analyst staffs during the recession, so by default Merrill has come up in the standings.
2. The areas of the market I’m most familiar with–tech, consumer discretionary…–seem uninteresting, so I’ve got to range farther afield for new ideas. As a result, I need more fundamental industry and stock basics.
3. One evening, prompted by an online ad that popped up on my Google Finance page, I tried Merrill Edge.
It’s really good.
Yes, it has all the (useless) trading bells and whistles that other discount brokers have. It also has the same lame, computer-generated “research” reports the others do.
But the huge positive feature it has is access to all Merrill’s institutional stock research. And it’s mine just for opening an account. I haven’t traded enough to know whether the executions are any good, but I consider that a minor issue compared with the gold mine of information that Merrill has just opened up to me.