BofA’s Move Increases Brokers’ Conflict of Interest

When Bank of America management decided to relieve Sallie Krawcheck of her duties as head of Bank of America’s wealth management division, they put more than 16,000 Merrill Lynch brokers in the hands of a new boss who presumably has a different corporate agenda. It’s expected that David Darnell, who hails from the banking side of B of America, will likely spearhead a renewed effort on the part of the nation’s largest bank to further integrate Merrill Lynch and encourage its brokers to cross-sell more bank products.

This initiative for brokers at Bank of America Merrill Lynch clearly illustrates the conflicts of interest that brokers operate under. However, remember that anyone who is a registered representative of a broker/dealer also has a conflict of interest. Also, an advisor who is dually registered with a broker/dealer and RIA still is not a full-time fiduciary.

Bernhardt Wealth Management is a registered investment advisor and a fiduciary. That means we always put our clients’ interests ahead of our own — in all cases. To fully appreciate the role and responsibilities of a fiduciary, we return to its Latin roots: fides, meaning faith, and fiducia, meaning trust or confidence. Traced back to English Common Law, fiduciary describes a person who holds a position of great trust. Most often, a fiduciary would administer trusts or handle the conveyance of property. Particularly in today’s complex and challenging market, you deserve nothing less than a fiduciary.

To determine if the advisor you work with is a fiduciary, consult the National Assocation of Personal Financial Advisor’s “Fiduciary Questionnaire.”

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