With the demise of the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule, wirehouse Merrill Lynch may reconsider its 2017 policy of banning commissions in retirement accounts, the company said on a Friday call with its more than 14,000 financial advisors.
Merrill Lynch, the brokerage arm of Bank of America, banned commissions for retirement accounts after the fiduciary rule partially went into effect in June 2016. The rule was created under the Obama Administration and mandates that all financial professionals who work with retirement plans or provide retirement planning advice act as fiduciaries.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the rule that seeks to eliminate conflicted retirement investment advice in a 2-to-1 split decision on March 15th but has yet to issue the mandate making effective its decision to dissolve the rule. Last week, the deadline passed for the DOL to petition the Supreme Court to hear the case.
“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 interests front and center,” said Merrill Lynch spokesman Matthew Card. “Our core strategy, consistent with our principles, remains unchanged.”
The fiduciary rule is currently under review as directed by President Trump, and enforcement was previously delayed until July 1, 2019. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently seeking public comment for its own proposed best interest advice rules.