Merrill Launches Paperless Account Onboarding

Merrill Lynch has launched an entirely digital process for adding client accounts. The move should make it much easier for financial advisors and investors to do business with the wirehouse.

Merrill dubbed the system the “collaborative onboarding experience” or COBE, and promises it turns a time-consuming paper-based process into a fully digital procedure that allows “clients to approve new account openings through digital attestation on a computer, tablet, or cellphone,” according to Barron’s.

COBE will cover products across the Merrill Lynch universe, including investments in parent company Bank of America.

“The multiproduct nature of this and the streamlined process is really where the differentiation lies,” Alois Pirker, research director for Aite Group’s wealth management practice, told Barron’s.

COBE makes its appearance as traditional Wall Street firms seek to compete against the digital ease offered by the next generation of investing tools. “Advisors across the industry are demanding firms make new account opening as easy for them as it is for consumers going to digital advice startups or robo advice offerings at retail brokerages,” according to


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