Bank of America's Moynihan: No quick pullback from fiduciary rule

Chairman and CEO of the bank that contains Merrill Lynch says the DOL regulation is part of a larger trend in financial services

Jul 18, 2017 @ 1:56 pm

By Bruce Kelly

Bank of America Corp's chairman and CEO, Brian Moynihan, does not see a quick pullback from the Department of Labor's fiduciary rule.

The bank's global wealth and investment management group, which contains Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, last year said it was eliminating commissions from advised brokerage IRAs, sending a shock through the investment advice industry. The goal of the rule is to eliminate potential conflicts brokers face when recommending one product to clients rather than another.

The November election of Donald J. Trump was widely seen as an opening for the repeal of the fiduciary rule, along with a number of provisions from the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act.

During a conference call Tuesday morning with investors to discuss second quarter results, Mr. Moynihan was asked whether the fiduciary rule could be repealed. He responded: "Let's see what happens. I don't think it's going to change our thinking." He added that the DOL fiduciary rule was part of a larger trend in financial services that is bringing prices down for consumers.

Meanwhile, the number of Merrill Lynch advisers increased 1.8% to 14,811 at the end of June compared to the previous quarter, a net addition of 254 for the three months.

And Merrill Lynch will look to continue to expand the brokers and advisers under its roof, he said.

"We have a tremendous customer base that is underserved in the investment management area. We are going to continue to grow" the number of advisers, Mr. Moynihan said. "You should expect that number to continue to go up."

Growth in the number of advisers came despite Merrill Lynch recently losing highly productive financial advisers. In May, Merrill Lynch, along with rival Morgan Stanley, said it was reducing its reliance on recruiting experienced advisers and putting renewed focus on training younger advisers and building staff.

Global wealth and investment management also reported a record $804 million of net income, an increase of 14% when compared to the same quarter a year earlier.

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