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Wirehouses Pushing Remote Work, but Offices Stay Open

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The wirehouse firms —  Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS and Wells Fargo — are giving financial advisors more flexibility in terms of working from home in response to the need to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

As these employee advisors and their colleagues are part of a bank and thus are considered providers of “essential services,” branches remain open — though in some cases with more limited staff. 

Similar to its approach last week, Morgan Stanley is letting clients visit with advisors in branch offices as needed. Advisors, though, can work remotely as needed and do “virtual” meetings with clients. 

While Bank of America Merrill advisors have been shifting to remote work arrangements for the past weeks, they were formally asked Wednesday to do so by the end of this week. 

The bank, though, is keeping its offices open — including those in San Francisco and New York, where most businesses have closed due to the pandemic. 

Wells Fargo Advisors’ offices are also open. But the bank is “not encouraging in-person meetings right now,” it said in a statement, “[and] our advisors are just a phone call away if clients have any questions or want to discuss their investments.” 

Many advisors and employees are able to work from home and are doing so, WFA adds. Others who lack remote access or “are required to be in a certain location[s],” are using the social-distancing approach. 

Overall, the bank is asking non-client-facing staff with remote access to work from home, while client-facing employees and some others must remain in Wells Fargo offices “to serve customers, support operations, or support related activities such as business continuity planning,” it explained in a statement.

UBS advisors are still meeting with clients when requested, but advisors can set up virtual meetings, too. Its offices remain open. 

Advisors who prefer to work from home can do so after discussing such plans with supervisors.

— Check out Schwab Hits Bumps With Remote Work Plans on ThinkAdvisor.