What Merrill Is Doing Right-and How RIAs Can Learn From It

Meg Carpenter writes about Bank of America Merrill Lynch's video studio for advisors in WealthManagement.com. Video is a powerful marketing tool, and independent advisors have an opportunity to learn from Merrill while leveraging a temporary advantage in creating human and heart-centered content. 


Featured originally in wealthmanagement.com

If you haven’t heard, in February Bank of America Merrill Lynch announced Merrill Video Pro, a virtual video studio that lets its advisors script, record, and share short videos through email and social media. It also hosts the videos on Advisor Match, its digital referral platform. By automating workflows, including compliance review, Merrill promises that advisors can create and publish a video in a single day.  

Merrill is making it easy and efficient for advisors to use video within their existing systems. 

First, Merrill deserves credit for continuing to send advisors a parade of value-added resources. As I’ve said before, market volatility is prompting advisors to scrutinize what they’re getting from their relationships. With this announcement, Merrill is demonstrating a continued commitment to helping advisors drive organic growth.  

Second, Merrill picked the right medium to enhance. Video is the here-and-now for creating human connection at scale. When used correctly, it lets advisors show up meaningfully and authentically to their communities, building influence and driving growth.  

Video isn’t new, as Merrill is first to admit. What’s new here is the level of resources the company is committing, with the goal of helping advisors build a stronger digital presence. By integrating video within existing platforms and workflows, Merrill has made videos faster and easier to produce and more discoverable to potential clients.  

Should RIAs Worry? 

Merrill is pulling ahead of the pack, but that doesn’t mean it’s unbeatable. 

With the proliferation of content today, click-throughs and conversions are falling overall. It’s very hard to move the needle with corporate content like preapproved scripts and template libraries. Content works only if it’s hyper-relevant to its target market, with information that’s interesting, nuanced, and timely. That’s hard to deliver when you’re a huge organization aiming for a common denominator and insisting on preapproval for every script. Personalized intros and outros aren’t the same as genuinely human content. 

Right now, RIAs have a temporary advantage at creating human and heart-centered content. They’re free to do whatever works. They can hyper-target their insights and wisdom to specific needs, geographic areas, and psychographic profiles. They can pick and choose a tech stack at will—rather than squeezing a new medium into an old stack—and respond nimbly without waiting for preapproval.  

For now, RIAs still have an edge. 

Over the long run, though, it takes a big number to create infrastructure like Merrill Video Pro. Only big companies like Merrill and Raymond James can offer it to advisors for free or at an affordable cost.  

The Real Secret to Making Videos That Work 

My suggestion to CEOs of advisor networks, and to their RIAs: Don’t be discouraged. Instead, be quick. Double down now to build your video presence, while you still have a human advantage. 

What would I say to Merrill? Congrats, of course. But also: Don’t leave advisors to implement the tool on their own. Video isn’t as effective without strategy, ongoing coaching, and peer accountability. Give advisors the right additional resources and watch them transform into marketing giants who know how to build a credible, approachable, and scalable presence online. You can’t replace that with a script. 

Whatever your business model, remember advisors make videos work—not infrastructure. They’re the human part of the human touch. Invest in advisors, and they’ll return more than you ever imagined possible. 

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