As tablet apps make their way into financial services, one of the early use cases is for investment management, where the larger screens are tailor made for the charts, graphs and editorial content that accompanies self-directed and discount investing.

At Merrill Edge, Bank of America's (BAC) investment division, a slew of new mobile and tablet apps are being quickly introduced in an attempt to take advantage of consumer appetite for mobility and fast access to investment information.

Paul Vienick, a former svp at TD Waterhouse and E*Trade (ETFC), joined Merrill Edge in late 2010 as managing director, with a responsibility for self-directed and online investments. He recently discussed Merrill Edge's new mobile and tablet initiatives, and how new apps can be combined with Bank of America's own mobile and online apps for an optimized user experience.

BTN: What are some of the latest enhancements that you've made to Merrill Edge's digital suite?
Vienick: We've updated to provide an application [on BlackBerry, iPad and Android devices] that provides full access to accounts, trading, information that allows users to keep tabs on the markets, and access to market research. It's a mix similar to what we have online, so our clients don't have to learn or do anything different than what they are used to using on the internet. And for our iPad application, we introduced a bill pay function. If a client already has online bill pay set up in their account, they can pay any of those bills on the iPad. The most recent release on the iPhone has remote check deposit, which lets users take a picture and instantly transmit that to our system, with the deposit made into our account.

What investment products are available on mobile?
We've gone live with a full suite of fixed-income products. Users can trade corporate, agency or municipal securities directly on our site.

Remote deposit capture seems to require some work from the consumer — particularly in taking an accurate photo that's usable for the institution.

We made it simple. It's a two-step process. The user logs in and places the phone near the check. They don't really even have to snap a picture. As long as they hold the camera steady over the check, the app recognizes the image as a check and automatically takes the image.

How are consumer relationships on mobile and web channels changing?
We are seeing more customers migrate to using mobile platforms. That doesn't mean they are switching off the online experience, they are just augmenting it. When they need access to their investments while on the go, they are using the mobile apps more.

What gets top priority on the mobile apps?
People like to say you should put everything on mobile platforms. But first and foremost, mobile's about quick and easy access to information about the market and performance, answering questions such as 'how is my portfolio doing?' And based on the answer to that, they want to have access to their accounts to execute transactions when the need to on the go.

How important is it to integrate Merrill Edge's mobile apps with Bank of America's?
When Merrill Edge first came out in 2010, the value proposition was the easy access to your accounts at Bank of America. So when people log into our apps, they can see all their Merrill Edge and Bank of America accounts on screen. All functions are made available on both apps. If people are doing remote deposit on the iPhone, they can move that money directly to their Bank of America accounts. They can also move money between BofA and Merrill Edge accounts through an integration between the two platforms. We've set it up where you can transfer funds or get access to accounts on both sides with one or two clicks.