When Paul Fox, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management online platforms, took the stage at a recent conference and deposited a check using an iPhone, it drew applause from the 400 financial advisors in the crowd.
Now, Merrill Lynch is making that remote check deposit feature for iPhones, as well as a new Android application and bill pay functionality for iPads, broadly available to both its clients and financial advisors.
The launch of these new mobile features follows several months of internal piloting, particularly with Merrill Lynch’s financial advisor force, followed by a roll out to select clients. The new features expand on Merrill Lynch’s existing apps for mobile devices aimed at increasing clients’ ability to access their accounts from anywhere.
“We see mobile as a big part of our tech investment, both for our clients and financial advisors as we move forward,” Fox said in an interview with On Wall Street.
The new features have generated “very positive” feedback so far, Fox said, particularly for the remote deposit feature for the iPhone. Now clients can sign in to the MyMerrill app for the iPhone and submit a check for processing by sending pictures of its front and back.
The new Android app allows clients to access account and market information and complete transactions such as money transfers. The app follows Merrill Lynch’s already established apps for devices including the BlackBerry and iPhone after the firm determined that enough of its clients were adopting Android technology, Fox said.
The new Bill Pay feature for the iPad enables Merrill Lynch clients to see a calendar of all of their bills and manage those payments via the MyMerrill app. Clients must first enroll in the bill pay service on MyMerrill.com to use the new feature.
“We take advantage of some of the tactile elements of the tablet, and created a very immersive experience,” Fox said of the new iPad feature, which includes a dashboard that displays different elements of a client’s portfolio. “This seemed like the perfect way to give folks a nice interface to deal with paying their bills, whether they’re at an airport or watching their kids’ soccer game.”
While Merrill Lynch currently just has an app available for the iPad tablet, the existing MyMerrill.com site works very well with browsers for all tablets, Fox said.
So far, there is a lot of excitement from financial advisors for the mobile offerings, which let them work with clients in a more flexible way, both remotely and from the office, according to Fox. And strong adoption from both advisors and clients has Merrill Lynch already planning on additional mobile offerings.
“You’ll see continued strong investment as more and more of our clients leave the web and spend more and more of their time on mobile phones and tablets,” Fox said.
Lorie Konish writes for On Wall Street.