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Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated Review

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Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, registered in 1978, is a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) in 47 state(s) with a licensed staff of 26,968 advisors. Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated manages $962.1 billion and provides investment advisory services for 1,340,790 clients (1:50 advisor/client ratio).



Disciplinary Questions


After checking the disciplinary records of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, our system has identified the following question(s) to ask. Learn more.

announcement Your firm or an advisory affiliate has at least one felony conviction. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement In the past 10 years, a domestic or foreign court has issued an injunction against your firm or an advisory affiliate in connection with an investment-related activity. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement Your firm or an advisory affiliate was previously found guilty of making false statements or omissions by the SEC, CFTC, or another regulatory agency or organization. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement Your firm or an advisory affiliate has previously been found guilty of violating a regulation or statute by a domestic or foreign court, the SEC, CFTC, or another regulatory body or commodities exchange. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement Your firm or an advisory affiliate has previously been fined or ordered to cease and desist activity by the SEC or CFTC. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement The SEC, CFTC, or another regulatory agency has previously entered an order against your firm or an advisory affiliate in connection with an investment-related activity. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement Your firm or an advisory affiliate has at least one investment-related misdemeanor conviction. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement A regulatory agency has previously denied, suspended, or revoked your firm’s or an advisory affiliate’s registration or license or otherwise restricted their activities. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement It appears your firm or one of your employees previously had been subject to a suspension or expulsion or other restriction of activities with a Self-Regulating Organization or commodities exchange. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


announcement It appears your firm or an advisory affiliate had previously had their authorization to act as an attorney, accountant, or federal contractor revoked or suspended. What happened? When? How many times did it occur? Will anyone that was involved be involved with my accounts in any capacity?


Our system found no other disciplinary questions to ask. Checks take place monthly.


Conflict Questions


After checking the regulatory records of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, our system has identified the following question(s) to ask. Learn more.

announcement What percentage of income do you receive from fees versus commissions?

Why ask? This firm can accept commissions for its investment advisory services. These commissions may be earned from the sale of investment or insurance products and are paid by the companies providing the products being sold. While this allows for a broader range of investment options and management styles a firm can offer, it can also create an incentive for the firm to put their financial interests ahead of your own. Is the firm’s purpose to provide you financial planning and ongoing advice or to sell commission-based products to its clients?

announcement Is your firm also a Broker-Dealer or are they affiliated with one? What conflicts arise from this relationship? How do you mitigate them?

Why ask? Currently this firm is also a Broker-Dealer or is affiliated with one. When firms are dual-registered as broker-dealers, they may be subject to compensation-related conflicts of interest, including revenue sharing from mutual funds, cross-selling of commissioned insurance products, and the sale of proprietary investment products. All of these conflicts can negatively impact clients via hidden fees and overall higher costs.

announcement Do you offer mutual funds that have 12b-1 fees?

Why ask? 12b-1 fees increase the total annual cost of owning a mutual fund with no guarantee of higher returns. Some firms receive these fees as payments, which creates an incentive to promote them.

announcement Regulatory disclosures state that your firm sells proprietary investments and products. Please provide me a list of the products and a summary of how much you earn from them.

Why ask? This firm recommends proprietary investments and products that could generate larger commissions than other similar non-proprietary products. This could also limit the number and diversity of investment options available to you and may impact their transferability. Do not be afraid to ask how much they will earn from the product or what other non-proprietary options are available.

announcement It appears you recommend securities that you or your affiliates underwrite or in which you serve as general or managing partner? Will any of my assets be invested in those products?

Why ask? This firm recommends securities that they may have recently taken public or otherwise have controlling interest over. This relationship could introduce bias where a firm and its advisors may push those products over others that may have a more favorable performance with which they are not affiliated.

announcement Do you accept soft-dollar benefits? How did these benefits affect your firm’s selection of a broker-dealer partner?

Why ask? This firm receives soft-dollar benefits that could incentivize them to push trades through broker-dealers that provide advantages to the firm instead of through broker-dealers that could provide the best trade execution for their clients.

announcement Which securities do you trade for yourself that you will also be recommending to me?

Why ask? This firm has marked in their disclosures that they trade recommended securities. While this often can be seen as "eating your own cooking," there are several inherent conflicts that can arise. For example, front running is when a financial professional buys or sell securities ahead of their client. In short, any financial professional should disclose all positions they hold (or have sold short) that they will also be recommending to you.

Our system found no other conflict questions to ask. Checks take place monthly.



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Firm Information


As a financial advisory firm, also known as a Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated can provide a variety of financial planning services for Americans. The goal of a financial advisor is to review your personal finances and work with you to achieve your life goals, e.g., saving for retirement, by creating a comprehensive financial plan. Financial advisors focus primarily on money management, including investments like stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds.

Financial planning services can include tax planning, estate planning, retirement planning, or life-based event planning such as saving for college, getting married, purchasing a home, paying down debt, or planning an inheritance.

Summary Firm
Minimum Investment Ask firm
Average Client Balance $717,526
Total AUM $962.1 billion
Investment-Related Prohibition - Court Yes
Advisor / Client Ratio 1:50
Website Visit Site
Phone Number 800-637-7455
Headquarters New York, NY
SEC Filings View SEC IAPD CRD #7691



Disciplinary History


An important aspect of the Trust Algorithm is processing the SEC Form ADV Part 1 filing of each Registered Investment Advisor (RIA). “Item 11 Disclosure Information” contains a list of valuable disclosures that are relevant for Americans.

As identified in SEC Form ADV Part 1, Item 11 “Disclosure Information”, the Trust Algorithm identified the following disciplinary disclosures for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated:




Cost


Unfortunately, there is no single, uniform pricing standard for working with a financial advisor. Catchphrases, including "fee-only," can be helpful; however, Americans often get confused with competitors promoting "fee-based" in response.

Ultimately, to understand the underlying costs of advisory services, we always recommend asking for an itemized fees breakdown and reading the firm's ADV Part 2 Brochure (Item 5, "Fees and Compensation").



FAQs








This automated report was generated using SEC and FINRA data and was last updated on August 12th, 2020*. For data support, email "support@investor.com". Views: 996 (trailing six months). Firms that receive a 4.5 or 5-star rating are considered Trusted by investor.com. Learn more.


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