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Alternative Investments

Alternative investments offered by Merrill can play a powerful role in helping you achieve your goals

At Merrill, we look for the broadest range of opportunities to help our clients achieve their investment goals. That’s why we believe private equity, hedge funds, and other alternative investments should be considered a fundamental part of nearly every investor’s portfolio.


Potential benefits of alternative investments

Whether you’re looking to maintain your lifestyle through retirement or gain returns to leave a lasting legacy, alternative investments may be the right choice for you. One potential benefit is that they provide access to the cutting-edge companies at the forefront of technology, healthcare and sustainability.1 They can also complement your traditional equities and fixed income investments and potentially help you improve diversification, increase return potential and mitigate risk. It is important to be aware that alternative investments may be less liquid, use leverage, have less transparency and charge higher fees including a performance incentive.

  • Enhanced

    Complement your traditional portfolio and diversify your assets2
  • Increased return

     Provide additional sources of returns by exposing you to a broader range of securities3
  • Lower

    May help strengthen your financial strategy without increasing expected volatility

Ways to access Alternative Investments

We offer alternative investment solutions through a wide variety of structures tailored to your liquidity needs and risk tolerance.

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The Merrill difference

As always, we’ll provide you with professional advice, research and portfolio construction so you can invest confidently in these widely recognized solutions.


  • The independent due diligence team within our Chief Investment Office5 selects and carefully monitors the alternative investments that are available for purchase on our platform.
  • We offer third party alternative investments based on their merits, rather than prioritizing proprietary ones.
  • Our scale and commitment facilitates access – sometimes exclusive – to a broad array of asset managers, including some with lower minimums.


Finding the right strategy for you

Talk to your Merrill advisor to discuss which alternative investments may be right for you. We know not all investors are the same, so we can help you find the alternative investments that best align with your goals and risk tolerance.


Frequently asked questions

What are Alternative Investments?

Are Alternative Investments right for me?

Can anyone invest in Alternative Investments?

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Impact investing and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) managers may take into consideration factors beyond traditional financial information to select securities, which could result in relative investment performance deviating from other strategies or broad market benchmarks, depending on whether such sectors or investments are in or out of favor in the market. Further, ESG strategies may rely on certain values based criteria to eliminate exposures found in similar strategies or broad market benchmarks, which could also result in relative investment performance deviating.


Diversification does not ensure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets. Alternative investments involve limited access to the investment and may include, among other factors, the risks of investing in derivatives, using leverage, and engaging in shorts sales, a practice which can magnify potential losses or gains. Alternative investments are speculative and involve a high degree of risk and volatility.


3Alternative investments are intended for qualified investors only. Alternative Investments such as derivatives, hedge funds, private equity funds, and funds of funds can result in higher return potential but also higher loss potential. Changes in economic conditions or other circumstances may adversely affect your investments. Before you invest in alternative investments, you should consider your overall financial situation, how much money you have to invest, your need for liquidity and your tolerance for risk. Alternative Investments are speculative and involve a high degree of risk.


4Nonfinancial assets, such as closely held businesses, real estate, oil, gas and mineral properties, and timber, farm and ranch land, are complex in nature and involve risks including total loss of value. Special risk considerations include natural events (for example, earthquakes or fires), complex tax considerations and lack of liquidity. Nonfinancial assets are not in the best interest of all investors. Always consult with your independent attorney, tax advisor, investment manager, and insurance agent for final recommendations and before changing or implementing any financial, tax, or estate planning strategy. Client eligibility may apply.


5The Chief Investment Office (CIO) provides thought leadership on wealth management, investment strategy and global markets; portfolio management solutions; due diligence; and solutions oversight and data analytics. CIO viewpoints are developed for Bank of America Private Bank, a division of Bank of America, N.A., ("Bank of America") and Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated ("MLPF&S" or "Merrill"), a registered broker-dealer, registered investment adviser and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation.


Some or all alternative investment programs may not be in the best interest of certain investors. Investors must have a pre-existing relationship of six months or longer with the financial advisor before becoming pre-qualified to receive information on alternative investment products. No assurance can be given that any alternative investment's investment objectives will be achieved. Many alternative investment products are sold pursuant to exemptions from regulation and, for example, may not be subject to the same regulatory requirements as mutual funds. In addition to certain general risks each product will be subject to its own specific risks, including strategy and market risk. Certain alternative investments require tax reports on Schedule K-1 to be prepared and filed. As a result, investors will likely be required to obtain extensions for filing federal, state, and local income tax returns each year.


Index definitions.

The indices shown are provided for illustrative purposes only. They do not represent benchmarks or proxies for the return of any particular investable hedge fund product. The hedge fund universe from which the components of the indices are selected is based on funds which have continued to report results for a minimum period of time. This prerequisite for fund selection interjects a significant element of "survivor bias" into the reported levels of the indices, as generally only successful funds will continue to report for the required period, so that the funds from which the statistical analysis or the performance of the indices to date is derived necessarily tend to have been successful. There can, however, be no assurance that such funds will continue to be successful in the future. ISG Alternative Investments group assumes no responsibility for any of the foregoing performance information, which has been provided by the index sponsor. Neither ISG Alternative Investments group nor the index sponsor can verify the validity or accuracy of the self-reported returns of the managers used to calculate the index returns. ISG Alternative Investments group does not guarantee the accuracy of the index returns and does not recommend any investment or other decision based on the results presented. Reference to indexes or other measures of relative market performance over a specified period of time (each, an index) are provided for illustrative purposes only and do not imply that any account, fund or portfolio will achieve returns or volatility results similar to the index. The figures for the index reflect the reinvestment of dividends but do not reflect the deduction of any fees or expenses which would reduce returns. Investors cannot invest directly in indexes. We strongly recommend that these factors be taken into consideration before an investment decision is made.


S&P 500 Total Return Index (U.S. stocks): A market-capitalization-weighted index that measures the market value of 400 industrial stocks, 60 transportation and utility company stocks and 40 financial issues.


Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (Bonds) is a benchmark index composed of U.S. securities in Treasury, Government-Related, Corporate and Securitized sectors. It includes securities of investment-grade quality or better, have at least one year to maturity, and have an outstanding par value of at least $250 million. Benchmark selected to represent fixed income returns.


Cambridge Associates Private Equity U.S. Benchmark Total Return (Private Equity): Performance data is calculated quarterly by Cambridge Associates and published by Thomson Reuters Venture Economics’ Private Equity Performance Database which tracks the performance of thousands of U.S. and European venture capital and buyout funds formed since 1969. Sources are financial documents and schedules from Limited Partners investors and General Partners. All returns are calculated net to investors (net of fees and carried interest) by Thomson Venture Economics from the underlying financial cash-flows using both cash on cash returns (distributions and capital calls) and the unrealized net asset value of funds as reported by private equity fund managers. The “U.S.” category includes only U.S. funds. The “All Venture” category includes data from early / seed, and later-stage financing. Historical data is revised when funds are added or removed.


HFRI Fund Weighted Composite Index (Fund of Hedge Funds) is a benchmark compiled by Hedge Fund Research Inc. and is designed to reflect hedge fund industry performance by constructing equally weighted composites of constituent funds, as reported by the hedge fund managers listed within the HFR Database.


NCREIF Property TR Index (Real Estate) is a composite total rate of return measure of investment performance of a very large pool of individual commercial real estate properties acquired in the private market for investment purposes only. All properties in the NPI ― the great majority being pension funds― have been acquired, at least in part, on behalf of tax-exempt institutional investors. As such, all properties are held in a fiduciary environment.

Global Wealth & Investment Management ("GWIM"), a division of Bank of America Corporation, includes the Investment Solutions Group ("ISG") Alternative Investments group ("ISG AI group"), which provides qualified clients with a range of alternative investment products.



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