Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch, the nation's two largest wirehouses by number of advisors, have told those among their advisors with a CFP certification to stop describing themselves as "fee-only." The move came in response to the CFP Board's decision on Sept. 19 to strip the fee-only listings from all the advisor profiles on its website.
The board made the changes after Financial Planning reported that 486 wirehouse advisors from Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS Securities and Wells Fargo Advisorsand hundreds more at banks, insurance companies and other firmswere calling themselves fee-only in the profiles accessible via the board's "Find a CFP Practitioner" search tool. The number of wirehouse advisors who call themselves fee-only on the CFP Board website was computed by examining online advisor profiles at each firm in all 50 states. Any wirehouse advisor who identifies as fee-only is violating the board's rules, which forbid advisors from using the descriptor if they are associated with any "related parties" that take commissions, including employers.
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