BofA Weighs Allowing Commissions on Merrill Retirement Accounts

(Bloomberg) -- Bank of America Corp., faced with a lighter regulatory climate in the Trump era, is considering whether to reverse a decision it made two years ago to remove broker commissions from Merrill Lynch retirement accounts.

The firm’s wealth-management unit may allow retirement-account customers flexibility in fee structures after a review is completed in about 60 days, bank spokesman Jerry Dubrowski said. Merrill Lynch’s top executive, Andy Sieg, made the announcement Friday to the firm’s 14,000 financial advisers.

“Now that the regulatory environment has shifted, we’re taking a look at our policies, especially as they might affect policies and procedures for individual retirement accounts, to ensure we keep our clients’ best interest front and center,” the bank said in a statement emailed by Dubrowski. “Our core strategy, consistent with our principles, remains unchanged.”

Merrill Lynch decided in 2016 it would stop offering commission-based retirement accounts and instead impose fees based on assets managed as it prepared to comply with the Department of Labor’s fiduciary-duty rule requiring investment advisers to put client interests ahead of their own. The firm was alone among wealth managers inside large U.S. banks to force the move on brokers and their clients, saying at the time it would minimize potential conflicts. The Obama-era rule was struck down in March by a U.S. appeals court.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on the Merrill commissions.

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