Merrill Moves Back to Commissions on Retirement Accounts

Merrill Lynch – one of the first broker-dealers to step away from commission-based fees for retirement accounts – has decided to bring them back.

“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,” explained Andy Sieg, head of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management.

Specifically, beginning Oct. 1, 2018 Merrill Lynch’s restrictions on asset sales into retirement brokerage accounts will be lifted.

Back in October 2016, with the Obama administration still in place, and the fiduciary regulation headed toward an April 10, 2017 implementation, Merrill Lynch announced that it would no longer give retirement savers the option of paying a commission for trades once the new fiduciary regulation took effect.

In June, following the vacating of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this year, Merrill Lynch announced that the firm was reconsidering that move “now that the regulatory environment has shifted.”

Along with the shift in commissions, the firm reiterated its commitment to a fiduciary standard, and announced plans for reporting and services disclosure changes that were seen as being consistent with the Security and Exchange Commission’s recent “best interest” proposal.

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