Merrill Lynch is Full of Bull…

Flipping through the WSJ tonight, I came across a full-page ad for Merrill Lynch (page A7 in the paper if you’re interested). The ad says this:

In 1915, Charlie Merrill said,

“The interests of our clients always come first.”

Today we make the same



The interests of our clients always come first.

Then, further down the page is this little paragraph:

In our 93-year history we have never lost our true focus that our founder put so succinctly. Our commitment is why our clients have entrusted us with nearly $2 trillion in assets. It’s why more and more people are achieving the life they want to live through their partnership with a Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor. It’s why we are bullish of Merrill Lynch.

Funny how they forgot about the $100 million fine they had to pay in 2002:

Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER) will pay a $100 million US fine to settle allegations that the brokerage’s analysts issued misleading research reports.

It’s important to note that ML never admitted to doing anything wrong. However, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they WERE NOT putting their client’s first when they were promoting crap in order to earn underwriting business. That said, I would have a lot more respect for ML if they would have said something like:

“In the past, we haven’t always lived up our founder’s true focus…”

I guess that would be expecting too much.

9 thoughts on “Merrill Lynch is Full of Bull…”

  1. Regarding ML, as Suze Orman once stated…it’s not ML as a whole that has wronged its clients, it’s a few of their advisors that don’t put their client’s best interests first. I believe that, like with any other investment, you need to invest your time into finding an advisor that you can trust and really work with to achieve your goals. You can’t just accept the first advisor that falls on your doorstep. Be careful….it’s your money and your future….you can’t rely on just anybody to help you.

  2. Q: Why don’t brokers recommend the no-load versions of the exact same mutual funds or 529 plans as the loaded versions they sell?

    A: Because it would not be in the broker’s best interest, or the best interest of the brokerage firm, or the firm’s shareholders.

    Q: But wouldn’t not paying a load or other ongoing fees like 12b1 for exactly the same underlying investments be in the client’s best interest?

    A: Yes.

    Q: So, whose interests are coming first?

  3. Two worlds of financial planning exist: the world of the fiduciary and the world of suitability. A fiduciary has a legal obligation to put their client’s interests first whereas the suitability standard only requires the product being sold is suitable for the client considering his/her situation.

    Merrill Lynch brokers are not fiduciaries. Merrill brokers do not have any legal obligation to put their client’s interests first. When looking for a financial advisor or planner, the first question should be, “are you a fiduciary?” If the answer is no, then you need to move on to someone else. Your financial future is too important to entrust to someone who has no legal obligation to put your interests first.

    For full disclosure, I am a fee-only advisor who does uphold a fiduciary standard.

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  5. I think it’s getting to the point where Wall Street ONLY cares about it’s largest investors. Anyone with less than $10M to invest are considered ‘background noise’. We provide a pool where the sharks get to swim (and feed).

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