The industry is still scratching its head as to why Bank of America has yet to join the broker protocol, commonly known as “the protocol.” After acquiring Merrill Lynch last year, Bank of America officials indicated in published reports their intentions to join the broker protocol, which allows departing brokers/advisors to leave a firm and not get sued under non-compete or non-solicit agreements, and allows them to take their clients’ basic contact information, and thus their clients, with them.

Bill Halldin, a spokesman for Merrill Lynch, points out that Merrill is a member of the protocol, and “we anticipate the [Banc of America Investment Services] BAI platform will join in the future, but no date has been set.”

Patrick Burns, with the law offices of Patrick Burns in Beverly Hills, says that without BofA having protocol membership, “people are clearly at risk of getting sued and won’t be allowed to take their clients with them.” There are currently about 300 firms on the protocol list, Burns says, “but surprisingly BofA is not one of them.”

Burns notes in his most recent Breakaway Broker newsletter that three firms have recently joined the protocol: Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC; Wells Fargo Advisors LLC (formerly Wachovia Securities LLC); and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network LLC (formerly Wachovia Securities Financial Network LLC).