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Merrill Lynch Retirement App Provides Information Gamer-Style

Investors tell Merrill Lynch they want a tech-driven dashboard that will display their financial totals and goals on a mobile device. 

| BY Kent McDill

Concern over retirement issues is not a game, but Merrill Lynch is using gamification to teach investors about retirement plans.

Merrill Lynch Wealth Management is offering a technology-driven set of retirement information packages for advisors to use with mobile devices when talking about retirement with clients.

Merrill Lynch Clear is a program for iPads which has separate web windows for advice on family, health, home, work, leisure and charitable donations. The program includes instructional videos on topics such as lifetime income and Social Security, as well as an investment personality questionnaire and interactive exercises.

The touch screen app uses gaming dynamics to increase the appeal of the program.

“Technology can disconnect people, but Clear becomes a tool to connect people,’’ said Merrill’s head of behavioral finance Michael Liersch. Advisors and investors can access the programs together from separate locations, allowing for better and clearer conversations, according to Liersch.

Clear has seven separate apps, and the most in-depth one is the one that deals with health-care issues related to aging, with separate pages on long-term care, insurance coverage and dementia.

RELATED: See Millionaire Corner's Best Financial Advisors Search Page

Clear will not require additional hiring by Merrill Lynch, the company said, but 8,000 Merrill advisors have already been trained on its usage. The purpose of Clear is to create a more goal-driven wealth management program, with simpler language that came out of behavioral finance research, according to Merrill Lynch Wealth Management chief John Thiel.

A company spokesman said the research that led to Clear produced three lessons about client desires – they want a tech-enabled dashboard to keep them up to date on their financial status, greater financial education and a “mission control person’’, which is a way of saying they want an advisor available to talk to them about what they are looking at when they examine their financial statements.

        



About the Author


Kent McDill

kmcdill@spectrem.com

Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.

In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.

McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.

McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy  Buffett and all things Disney.