Bank of America Corp said Merrill Lynch customers can now automatically transfer funds in retirement accounts into standard bank accounts, the first major new service launched by the combined company.

Dubbed My Retirement Income, the service is designed for the growing number of baby boomer, wealth management clients reaching retirement age with, on average, $250,000 in invested assets.

This is about tying our customers more tightly to the organization, said Andy Sieg, head of Bank of America Merrill Lynch's retirement services.

Merrill Lynch customers will be able to make regularly scheduled transfers to a Bank of America account as part of their cash management strategy in retirement.

Such disbursements typically provide retirees with money for living expenses as they gradually draw down their accumulated retirement savings.

The program will allow Bank of America to keep Merrill Lynch clients' assets as deposits, rather than losing them to another bank.

The bank declined to provide projections on the new program's usage, but Merrill Lynch's Retirement Services unit oversees $400 billion in client assets.

Sieg said many of those clients have existing accounts with Bank of America.

The new service, Sieg said, is the first step in a broader strategy to emphasize Merrill Lynch's retirement-centered wealth management business, and comes as the company also announced a new system for financial advisers to address retirees' long-term cash concerns.

Sallie Krawcheck, Bank of America's head of global wealth management, said on Oct. 5 that the needs of retirement clients will be a top priority in the coming years. (Reporting by Joe Rauch; editing by John Wallace)