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Merrill Lynch may reverse no-commission policy for retirement accounts

Bank of America Corp.'s Merrill Lynch might backpedal on a prohibition to charge commissions on retirement accounts under its management, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Merrill Lynch had forbidden commissions on retirement accounts ahead of the U.S. Labor Department's fiduciary rule, which took effect in 2016 but was struck down by a court earlier this year. That rule was designed to safeguard retirement savers against unreliable financial advice from brokers seeking commission income. Another version of the rule is in the works at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, to be applicable to brokers, the news report added.

A Merrill representative told S&P Global Market Intelligence that with this shift in the regulatory environment, the firm is "taking a look at [its] policies, especially as they might affect policies and procedures for Individual Retirement Accounts, to ensure we keep our clients' best interest front and center," with its core strategy remaining unchanged.

The review should take about 60 days. The company does not expect a large number of accounts to switch back to commission accounts, an unidentified source told the Journal.