(Photo: Bloomberg)

Wells Fargo Advisors says investors using its do-it-yourself platform will no longer pay any commissions for trading stocks and exchange-traded funds, excluding penny stocks.

The WellsTrade move comes a day after Merrill Edge joined Charles Schwab, Fidelity, TD Ameritrade, E-Trade and Ally Financial in offering commission-free trades for stocks, ETFs and options. (Merrill Edge investors still incur a $0.65 per-contract fee on options.)

“We know do-it-yourself trading is one of several ways investors manage their money,” according to Wells Fargo Advisors President Jim Hays.

“We believe Wells Fargo Advisors is well positioned to serve clients who value the convenience of online investing, or a full-service relationship with a financial advisor, or who a desire a holistic relationship that offers both,” he explained.

Schwab moved to zero commissions on Oct. 7. Smaller firms like TD Ameritrade took a stock-price hit due to the added competitive pressure; then in late November, Schwab said it was buying the rival brokerage firm for $26 billion.  

“Investor demographics are shifting along with their digital expectations,” said Joe Nadreau, WFA’s head of Independent Brokerage and Platform Services, in a statement. “After thoughtful review, we realized changing our commission structure was right for our clients and business.”

Well Fargo Advisors is part of the bank’s Wealth and Investment Management unit, which had 13,723 financial advisors as of Sept. 30. That figure was down 76 from the earlier quarter and off 751 from a year ago. Total client assets stood at $1.9 trillion for Q3’19, down 1% from Q3’18.

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