(Press Release – March 26, 2012) – Bank of America today announced the launch of a new 401(k) solution from Merrill Edge designed for small businesses, called the Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k). This retirement solution offers small business owners, who generally have 401(k) plan assets under $250,000, a simplified, easy-to-manage retirement plan with lower costs than many traditional 401(k) plans, enabling small businesses to provide an important benefit to their employees.
“We know how important small businesses are to our nation’s economy and how dedicated their owners are to their employees,” said Robb Hilson, Bank of America Small Business executive. “Offering a simplified 401(k) plan, designed to address the needs of small business owners and their employees, is yet another way we are showing our commitment to supporting small businesses.”
According to a recent U.S. Government Accountability Office report, only 14 percent of small business employers (those with up to 100 employees) offer a retirement plan to their employees. Based on interviews with small employers, the report cited plan complexity, administrative burdens and carrying out fiduciary responsibilities as among the key barriers to sponsoring retirement plans. The Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) has easy-to-understand pricing that is generally lower than many traditional 401(k) plans. The offering provides convenient access to an online plan that is easy to maintain so that small business owners can stay focused on running their businesses and give themselves and their employees opportunities to pursue a successful retirement.
“In a recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Workplace Benefits Report, more than half of small business owners cited retirement benefits as one of the top tools for retaining employees and attracting new talent,” said Rich Linton, head of Business Retirement Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The generally lower costs than many traditional plans and accessibility of this solution enable business owners to provide employees with an important, tax-advantaged retirement savings tool, while also receiving potential tax benefits for their business.”
The Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) is self-serviced and managed completely online, giving small business owners secure access when and where it is convenient for them. Additional features and benefits include:
- An affordable, flexible 401(k) plan to help meet their unique needs.
- Access to 401(k) specialists to help with online plan setup.
- Web-based 401(k) recordkeeping administration services tailored for small businesses provided by Plan Administrators, Inc.
- Transparent fees to help quickly assess the right plan for their business and control the bottom line.
- A streamlined investment menu selected by Morningstar Associates, LLC, who assumes investment fiduciary responsibility and simplifies the fund selection process for clients, while helping take the guesswork out of fund selection for employees.
This solution also gives employees a platform through which they can easily manage their retirement investments. Features include:
- Online resources and education to help employees start their retirement investing and then stay on track, as well as phone-based support from 401(k) specialists to help them make informed investment decisions.
- Access to daily online statements and account performance details.
“Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k) gives small business owners and their employees access to benefits of the Merrill Edge services,” said Alok Prasad, head of Merrill Edge for Bank of America. “Merrill Edge’s simplified and transparent features enable customers to efficiently manage all their investment and retirement accounts, helping them prepare for the years ahead.”
In addition to the Merrill Edge Small Business 401(k), Merrill Edge offers small business owners a range of cost-effective retirement plan solutions to help meet their needs, including a Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) and Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) plans. Additionally, Merrill Lynch provides access to a host of solutions through its Advisor Alliance program, which delivers affordable recordkeeping and retirement plan administration services from a diverse selection of providers.
Beyond retirement plans, Bank of America is helping small businesses through a variety of other programs and services. The company extended $6.4 billion in new loan originations to small businesses in 2011, which increased new credit to small businesses by 20 percent. Bank of America is also the leading bank supporting Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), providing more than $200 million to finance small businesses that can’t qualify for traditional loans. A CDFI grant program, created in 2010 to unlock low-cost capital for small businesses, has allowed CDFIs to access more than $93 million, serving more than 8,700 local businesses and helping create and retain more than 13,000 jobs.
Bank of America has also hired more than 700 small business bankers since late 2010 and plans to hire a total of approximately 1,000 across the U.S. by mid-2012. These bankers serve as a dedicated resource for small business owners, helping them assess their companies’ deposit, credit and cash management needs.
Merrill Edge provides mass affluent customers and small business clients with access to professional investment guidance through Merrill Edge Financial Solutions Advisors™ in the Merrill Edge Advisory Center™ or in-person at select banking centers. For customers who prefer to invest on their own, Merrill Edge provides an online self-directed investing platform, with robust tools and resources to help them make informed investment decisions.
Bank of America
Bank of America is one of the world’s largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 57 million consumer and small business relationships with approximately 5,700 retail banking offices and approximately 17,750 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 30 million active users. Bank of America is among the world’s leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 4 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.