Merrill Lynch, Bank of America’s brokerage unit, is set to lift its ban on commissions for brokers serving retirement accounts. The ban was implemented to prepare for the Labour Department’s fiduciary rule announced in 2016.
The rule, intended at protecting investors from conflicted investment advice, was overturned by the US Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year.
Why Merrill Lynch is reversing its position
Two years back, Merrill Lynch unveiled plans to cease offering commission-based retirement accounts and instead started charging fees based on the amount of client assets.
Last year, the company relaxed the ban by launching a limited-purpose commission-based account.
According to a senior executive of the company, brokerage currently constitutes $100bn of individual retirement accounts at Merrill Lynch. Altogether, the company oversees $2.3 trillion in client assets.
The reversal of ban on commissions-based retirement accounts, taken following a 60-day review of the policy, is expected to be effective from 1 October 2018.
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management head Andy Sieg said: “In response to client feedback, we’re announcing steps today that will provide our clients with greater choice and flexibility, while maintaining our support for a best interest standard for investment advice across all accounts.”
However, the company is retaining its commission ban for annuity products.