Merrill's platform isn't workable and causes major losses of time to customers. They also have just about the worst margin call process possible.
September 27, 2022

Merrill's platform isn't workable and causes major losses of time to customers. They also have just about the worst margin call process possible.

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 1 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with Merrill Edge

Use it for handling investments, primarily stocks / equities using the Merrill Edge online platform. It is a self-managed platform so the trades are normally placed online instead of via a live broker. It's possible to do a trad via a live rep for a fee per trade, but the fee is fairly high for that, so placing trades online is better.
  • Their website page load times are fairly quick
  • The user interface for placing regular trades during market hours is good
  • The login process works well enough
  • They only give clients 2 days to cover margin maintenance calls, even though FINRA (the regulator) allows them to give clients 5 business days. For example, TD Ameritrade gives use 4 to 5 business days if there is a margin maintenance call. That is between 100% and 150% more time than Merrill gives. Even worse, Merrill doesn't notify clients of a margin call until 10am, the day after the margin call started at 4pm. That's 16 hours into the 48 hour period, so 33% of the 48-hour period to cover the call has already passed by the time Merrill notifies you. I asked a rep why this is, and he said that their computer systems don't work in real-time and operate on a batch system, which doesn't update until the next day.
  • Thus, even though they have an outdated computer system that delays notice by 33%, they still choose to have a 2-day requirement rather than switch to a 3 or 4 or 5 day requirement. FINRA requires brokerages to give clients a minimum of 2 days to cover. So Merrill is only giving clients the absolute minimum required by the government. They could give clients 150% more time, but they don't.
  • Their phone prompt system is poor, and much of the time results in you talking to someone who doesn't know how to, or can't handle your reason for calling.
  • If you place an extended hours trade, it always has to expire at the end of the day. By contrast, there are other brokerages where you can place a trade and make it be "good to cancel" and applicable to both the regular hours and extended hours. For example, if we want to buy 100 shares of Apple at a certain price, we can place an order for it that last for 3 months (good til cancel) and the order stays active from 7am until 8pm for the next 3 months. If the price moves to our buy point in extended hours, we fill the order.
  • But at Merrill, to do the same, we have to: a) place an extended hours order early in the morning, and it always expires when the regular session starts. b) thus we have to place the order again at 930am so it will be active til 4pm. c) then we have to place another new order at 4pm for the 4pm to 8pm session. And that always expires at the end of the day.
  • Thus, for each order that we want to fill, we have to place 3 trades per days, and be online at the start of 3 different sessions to place those trades. Because there are many stocks we want to buy or sell at certain price points, this means a huge amount of effort ... plus being online early in the morning, and a multiple specific times each day. If someone wants to schedule a meeting with me, it can't overlap with 930 to 10am, or 4 to 430pm or the half hour at the start of the opening session. Another issue with this is that it often can take 15 minutes to place all of the trades, so if the share prices moves into our buy/sell range in the first 10 minutes of a session, we can miss out on filling the order because the order for that particular stock wasn't entered in yet for that session.
  • I notified Merrill of this several years ago, and then two other times every 1 or 2 years ... and they still haven't fixed their approach. As a result, I've moved most of our holdings to another brokerage that handles it correctly.
  • They don't improve their system, and they don't seem to listen to customer feedback. I'm experienced at website development, and it would take a single web developer only about 1 or 2 weeks of work to fix their system so that clients can place one order and have it be active in regular and extended hours for the next 3 months ... versus having to place 3 orders a day for 90 days (basically 270 orders) to accomplish the same thing. They probably have more than a dozen web developers. But they don't do improvements that would save customers a ton of time and effort.
  • The ability to login in
  • The ability to place regular hours trades, but honestly most brokerages have this
  • We've lost a lot of time and effort due to the problems I described
  • We've lost some money due to some trades not getting filled
I rate Merrill a 1 out of 10 compared to the ratings of these brokerages I've used with 10 being best and 1 worst:

Interactive Brokers: 7

Etrade: 7

TD Ameritrade: 10

Merrill Edge: 1

We rate TDA best and have moved most of our holdings over to them for several reasons including: 1) You can place a single order and have it be Good Til Cancelled (for 3 months) active in both extended hours and regular session. Saves a ton of time, and it also results in better fills of orders at better prices. 2) They give 4 to 5 days to handle margin calls. 3) They regularly improve their platform to save customers time, while also giving them more options/features to do more and more things.

Do you think Merrill Edge delivers good value for the price?


Are you happy with Merrill Edge's feature set?


Did Merrill Edge live up to sales and marketing promises?


Did implementation of Merrill Edge go as expected?


Would you buy Merrill Edge again?


It is very poorly suited for any person or company that wants any of the following: 1) The ability to place extended hours trades in a reasonable way. See my previous note for details. Their extended hours trading is really unworkable. 2) A decent amount of time to take care of margin calls, plus notice of the call within a few hours of it starting. 3) Get routed to a person who can actually help you, 4) A company that listens to customer feedback, and improves their platform.

It is likely suitable if you don't care about any of the things above. The page load times are good enough, the regular trading UI is good enough and the login process works well.