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Merrill Lynch and the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology announced on February 5, 2014 a ground-breaking training program designed to help Merrill Lynch financial advisors and retirement specialists better understand and address the evolving needs of the nation’s aging population and their families.

The new Merrill Lynch Longevity Training Program offers insights into the latest advances, research and experiences in the field of gerontology, which includes the sociological, psychological, and physiological aspects of aging. Participants in the program will learn about the importance of and issues associated with longevity through a deeper exploration of seven life priorities defined through Merrill Lynch Clear®, including health, home, family, giving, leisure, work, and finances.

“We’ve partnered with one of the nation’s most prestigious universities, and a pioneer in the study of gerontology, to help ensure that our advisors and specialists have a deeper understanding of the opportunities and challenges presented by increasing longevity,” said David Tyrie, head of Retirement and Personal Wealth Solutions for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “Greater knowledge of and appreciation for various aspects of aging helps us better connect with our clients, address concerns, and achieve their desired outcomes leading up to and through retirement.”

Participants must complete approximately 12 hours of training over the course of four to eight weeks, delivered through a combination of on-demand videos featuring USC professors, online courses and reference materials, and web-based best practice presentations and knowledge sharing from Bank of America Merrill Lynch subject matter experts, including director of financial gerontology and USC Leonard Davis alumna Cyndi Hutchins.

Throughout the training, participants complete scored assessments of content knowledge and application skills and, at the conclusion, receive a Certificate of Completion from USC and up to nine continuing education credits for Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA), or Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC) professional designations.

“As our society continues to rapidly age, anticipating and understanding the unique needs and dreams of older adults is more important than ever,” said Pinchas Cohen, dean of the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology. “Increasing longevity can bring longer retirements, changing health care choices, more housing transitions, and many other challenges to financial security and independence. By introducing gerontology knowledge to the financial advice they receive, we aim to help older individuals accomplish more of the goals they’ve set for themselves and their loved ones.”

An initial group of 50 Merrill Lynch financial advisors and specialists began participating in this first-of-its kind training program last month. Starting in April, the program will be available to the firm’s more than 14,000 advisors and specialists. The program will then be expanded further beginning in May to include HR and benefit plan professionals at companies for whom Bank of America Merrill Lynch provides retirement and benefit plan services.

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