Merrill Lynch

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If your cash is managed by Bank of America’s brokerage arm, get ready to pay more for the service.

BofA plans to jack up costs for hundreds of Merrill Lynch customers as part of a $100 million ‘platform overhaul … developed to make it easier for agents to handle their customers’ accounts and develop portfolios,’ the Wall Street Journal’s Corrie Driebousch reports.

With the new platform, unofficially called Merrill Lynch One, customers will be charged minimum costs based upon the size of their financial investment. The step comes as big brokerage companies struggle to make up for lost properties throughout the economic crisis. Advisors have until 2015 to adopt the brand-new pay scale, and if they agree to utilize the new platform, some investors can see their charges enhance by up to 50 %.

‘This change will transform the investment advisory company as it makes it more customer- and advisor-friendly – breaking down historically troublesome relationship barriers to permit much easier and reliable means of working,’ Susan McCabe, a BofA representative, told BI.

Even so, some in Merrill Lynch’s 14,000-strong fleet of consultants are not all that delighted.

They say the cost structure will just limit their prices adaptability (for example, offering a great consumer a price cut) and could drive some clients away. However McCabe firmly insists that brand-new platform cost structure will be optional.

‘There’s no automatic charge modification,’ McCabe said. ‘Clients have the option of using the new single platform and will sign a brand-new arrangement that’ll consist of an agreed upon cost. That charge will reflect the full value the client put on the overall suggestions and service provided by the advisor and company.’

Read about what to expect from the new fee structures over at the Journal)

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