Merrill Lynch Mulling Retirement Plan Compensation Decision

Merrill Lynch is reviewing its previously stated position on charging commissions for retirement accounts.

Following a June 15 conference call with many of the firm’s advisors, Merrill Lynch issued the following statement: “Now that the regulatory environment has shifted, we’re taking a look at our policies, especially as they might affect policies and procedures for individual retirement accounts, to ensure we keep our clients’ best interest front and center. Our core strategy, consistent with our principles, remains unchanged.”

The Wall Street Journal notes (subscription required) that the March 15 rejection of the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule, coupled with the more recent release of a proposal by the Securities and Exchange Commission, has led Merrill to review its policy.

Well before the fiduciary rule took effect – and before the election that resulted in a change in administrations, Merrill had announced that it would no longer give retirement savers the option of paying a commission for trades once the new fiduciary regulation took effect.

At the time, a number of brokerage firms had announced changes in their compensation structures for advisors working with retirement plans – and others had announced their intention to stay with commissions.

With the apparent demise of the fiduciary rule, other firms may well rethink their positions as well.

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