I've been using Merrill Edge since 2012. I think they are the best broker for Bank of America customers because you benefit from faster transfers to and from bank accounts and 30 free trades a month if you have a balance of $25k or more.
I've had no issues so far and it seems like all the features I need are available. Would highly recommend!
14 days ago
I use Merrill Edge (because of those free trades). I manage a large number of taxable and retirement accounts for myself, my wife and my four sons.
I don't have any terribly big complaints about Merrill Edge. They certainly haven't been problem free. But I doubt another brokerage would either. I haven't had an ordinary online brokerage other than Merrill Edge in a LONG time.
I have an ESPP account at Etrade and the online interface for that is worse than Merrill Edge and their customer service is worse, and I've really gotten to hate them. BUT I don't know how much of that is a "captive customer" account effect. I don't have any such account at Merrill Edge (where my employer chose the account and I have no say in it). Brokerages can get away with crap service on accounts where those enduring the crap service have no say in the choice of brokerage. Similarly, my wife and I and one son all have 401Ks at Fidelity, where there are three totally different online UIs for those three accounts and all are confusing and worse than Merrill Edge and customer support is terrible. Other sons (and in the past my wife) have or had 401K accounts at a few terrible minor (don't even reveal the true financial institution name) 401K providers that manage to be even worse than Fidelity.
I think most of that is customer service is just worse in ESPP and 401K accounts than in taxable and IRA accounts. Since I have only taxable and IRA accounts at Merrill Edge and only ESPP and 401K elsewhere, I can't do a fair comparison.
I haven't initiated a transfer of securities since before I had the Merrill Edge account. When they automatically transferred securities from Quick and Riley (where my previous accounts were) quite a while after Bank America bought Quick and Riley, they messed up that transfer badly and in multiple ways and it was a pain to clean up. But that was a long time ago.
When I liquidated securities (both because I wanted to and because Fidelity made it impossible to transfer them) to transfer cash from my Fidelity 401K to my Merrill Edge Roth IRA, Fidelity was a major pain and tacked on fees and delays and excessive paperwork. Merrill Edge was very helpful, including both bending rules and doing all the application for me to qualify for their program of getting a cash bonus for transferring a large balance from a different institution to a Merrill Edge IRA.
The most annoying defect of the premium relationship at Merrill Edge is getting off hours assistance for minor matters. The non premium service has longer hours. But if you call the non premium service when premium is not available, usually you are forced to give the computer identifying info before you can talk to a human. As soon as you provide identifying info, you are switched to the recording that you are outside the hours for premium service. During their hours, the premium service is great and has dealt very well with several complicated matters for me. But sometimes you have a simple problem off hours.
I'm also bothered by the fact that the online UI is slow to the point of nearly unusable during the key buying opportunities, such as Brexit. But I expect most other online brokerages are the same. The online UI is generally fast and robust. But when the market is panicking, the UI is overwhelmed, making it very hard to enter orders and impossible to check prices or check status of orders already entered. I managed to get some of orders in during such events because they were predictable before open and the UI is fine until the market opens on such mornings.