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Bank of America to Combine Online Brokers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (TheStreet) -- Bank of America (BAC) is consolidating its online brokerage with Merrill Lynch's Web offering as it looks to focus on more emerging affluent investors, a report says.

The new services, Merrill Edge, will target "those clients who today have got 'play money' at one of the online brokers," Sallie Krawcheck, the bank's head of wealth management, told Reuters in an interview.

The service is "more importantly for the next generation who are feeling pretty hurt by the downturn," Krawcheck said. The company is looking to attract investors with less than $250,000 of assets.

Krawcheck added that the bank is not "swimming upstream" and leaving small investors behind. In her view, the bank is offering "appropriate" services to a wide range of customers, from U.S. Trust private banking for the ultra-rich to the less affluent.

Bank of America acquired U.S. Trust in 2006.

Krawcheck reaffirmed that the unit isn't for sale and is a central part of the bank's wealth management offerings. U.S. Trust adds about 3,000 financial advisers, complementing Merrill's force of 15,000 brokers, Reuters notes.

"We're working on technology to expand U.S. Trust out," Krawcheck added. "The Merrill capabilities are broader and deeper than U.S. Trust."

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