Two years after it moved to end commissions in retirement accounts, Merrill Lynch says it will reverse course on Oct. 1. At the same time, it plans to provide more straightforward information to brokerage clients about fees and commissions, including a summary of programs and services and the associated costs.
The reason? Angry investors, and most likely unhappy advisors.
“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,” according the Andy Sieg, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.
In October 2016, Merrill said it would no longer offer new commission-based brokerage IRAs through its advisors when the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule was set to kick off in April 2017. This, of course, was ahead of the November 2016 election of President Donald Trump, whose campaign promises included broad deregulation.
Merrill started to tinker with its retirement-accounts policy as the fiduciary rule came into effect (and the firm began to see the departure of some high-profile advisors), telling its Thundering Herd that it planned to explore “options” for at least some clients who might benefit from commissions in retirement accounts.