Merrill Lynch (BAC) and Morgan Stanley (MS) frequently go head to head in the wealth-management business, and they (of course) don’t always see eye to eye.
Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman alluded to their divergent approaches to the new Department of Labor fiduciary rule on a call with equity analysts on Wednesday.
Gorman was asked specially if the firm’s approach would differ from a large competitor, i.e., Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, which recently said it does not plan to use the Best Interest Contract (or BIC) exemption and thus will not offer clients commission-based retirement accounts.
“Firstly, the team is going to be coming out, making some announcements, over the next couple of weeks, so … I won’t get ahead of them,” Gorman explained. “But I think it’s fair to say our firm view is that optimizing choice for our clients, giving them the choice of how they deal with the firm, services to access, how they pay for those services, is critical to how we operate as a firm.”
The firm takes its “regulatory constraints” seriously, the CEO says. “But the choice [between fee- and commission-based services] has been a fundamental sort of guiding light for the firm, and that is unlikely to change,” he added.