BofA Merrill Lynch Ramps Up 401(k) Solutions

In an effort to meet the “war for talent” head-on, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is rolling out a series of enhancements to its 401(k) and other financial benefit plan programs.   

Kevin Crain, Head of Institutional Retirement & Benefit Services (IRBS) for BofA, told PLANADVISER that these enhancements will serve two groups: plan sponsors who are fighting a “war for talent,” trying to recruit and retain the best employees, as well as employees, who are starting to recognize more than ever that tools and advice can help them achieve a secure retirement.

The five areas with increased offerings are:

  • Benefits OnLine Mobile – Mobile capabilities to give employees access to financial benefit plan account information, advice and important alerts wherever they are.
  • Employee Financial Services – A new program that provides plan participants access to a broader range of financial solutions that can help them meet near- and long-term goals.
  • Expanded Investment Menu – HR and benefits professionals can design retirement benefit plans that meet unique and often changing objectives with open investment architecture.
  • DB Discretionary Services –Portfolio strategists to offer consultative and co-fiduciary investment management services to defined benefit plan sponsors.
  • Plan Sponsor Solutions – A newly formed team of benefit plan professionals can assist plan sponsors with the design and seamless integration of defined contribution, defined benefit, equity and non-qualified deferred compensation plans available on our platform to allow for greater efficiencies.

According to a recent survey of C-level executives and HR professionals, BofA found that employers believe workers will become increasingly reliant on workplace benefit plans to help them reach financial goals. Therefore, in the next two years more than half of employers surveyed intend to improve their current plans – from 401(k), defined benefit and equity plans to health savings accounts (see “Many Employers Feel Responsible for Benefits and Advice”).   

The survey found that 79% of employers anticipate greater demand from employees for access to professional saving and investing advice surrounding their benefit plans. BofA is offering financial solutions that are intended to go beyond retirement planning, by bringing in more personalized financial advice and education, and allowing employees to choose the medium in which they get this advice.