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Merrill Lynch has begun to roll out a new single platform for its managed accounts. The conversion will usher in a change that Lorna Sabbia, head of the firm’s Managed Solutions Group, has been hearing advisors request for 18 years. [pullquote]This is something that the industry has struggled with for 18 years.[/pullquote]

The change will allow the firm’s 16,000 plus financial advisor force to use a single fee arrangement regardless of which of the firm’s platforms the client is invested in. Currently, there is a different fee structure for clients on the separately managed accounts platform, mutual fund wrap program, rep as portfolio manager program, rep as advisor program and unified managed account platform.

Sabbia told OnWallStreet.com‘s Lorie Konish “This is something that the industry has struggled with for 18 year.,” The managed account platforms date back to 1989 and have since evolved into five distinct platforms. “With this new innovation, we’re taking the opportunity to fix it.”

Financial Advisors Can Use One Contract Instead of Five

Now, instead of going to five different websites to find out how the client’s total portfolio is performing, advisors can turn to a single website. According to Sabbia, the change also means that advisors can use one contract instead of five and can consolidate the reports generated from five to one.

The new platform will be available to a limited number of the firm’s advisors and their service staffs starting in September, accounting for up to 250 employees. Merrill Lynch is scheduled to begin a broader roll out of the consolidated platform later this year that will gradually expand to all of its 11 markets. The firm is giving all of its advisors until the end of 2015 to adopt the new platform, when it will sunset the five preceding platforms.