Bank of America Investment Services Registration

Updated Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Registration Grade: D


The Bank of America Investment Services registration process is poor. It starts out well enough, with time saving features for existing BOA account holders. Beyond that, the process is a mess. Requesting margin and options trading needs to be more user friendly. The margin, options and general account opening forms need to be moved away from paper and made electronic like the processes found at most other online brokers.


Minimum initial account deposit: None
I opened a standard brokerage account.
The Bank of America welcome screen (click on images for larger views):

I have a Bank of America checking account so BOA saved me time by auto populating my personal information. Those without an existing BOA account will have to enter the standard personal information:

I was given a choice of four money market funds and chose the Columbia Municipal Reserves fund as my primary money market fund:

Once I completed the basic account setup, I chose to fund my account by electronically transferring money from my Bank of America checking account. Since BOA already has my checking account information I just had to select the amount of money to transfer:

Soon after completing the initial account opening process I received an email informing me that I needed to wait for a form in the mail to sign and return. Sure enough, a few days later I received a packet in the mail featuring an account reference guide, account user's guide and a page to sign and return.

During the account setup process I was not prompted to apply for margin and options trading. To apply for margin I had to log in to my account and dig through the website to find the margin request form. To apply for options trading I had to call Bank of America and request the form, which had to be sent by regular mail. That's right - the options trading request form isn't even stored on the website! For both forms, I had to fill them out by hand and either mail or fax them. Bank of America needs to move away from this paper heavy registration process.

Related articles: Bank of America Stock Trading, Bank of America Charts, Bank of America Research