Through this alliance, Putnam’s defined contribution plan products and services will be made available to Merrill Lynch financial advisers and their small- and middle-market clients, primarily those with $5 million to $50 million in defined contribution plan assets.
“We were looking for distribution leverage,” said Edmund F. Murphy III, head of Defined Contribution for Putnam Investments, to PLANADVISER. “Merrill Lynch has more than 5,000 advisers with at least one retirement plan [client] and several hundred that have retirement as a core focus of their practices.”
The company was added to the platform last week and officially began taking proposals Thursday night. As of Wednesday morning, it had already received seven, Murphy noted. While Putnam has goals at the top level, it does not yet have a good sense of what the partnership will yield, he said. However, the company has expended its internal sales desk to support this effort.
Through Putnam’s participation in Advisor Alliance, Merrill Lynch advisers will have access to Putnam’s Lifetime Income Analysis Tool participant experience and plan-management tools for plan sponsors, including the proprietary Lifetime Income Score, communication and education programs, and a multi-manager investment menu. At the beginning, the service offering will be the same as that offered outside the Advisor Alliance network, Murphy said, though there might be opportunities to customize the product as time goes on.
Murphy said he sees this alliance as a true partnership between Merrill Lynch and Putnam. “Merrill Lynch will be a great source of input and insight for us as we continue to build out our platform,” he said.