Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Merrill Lynch Call Center Problems

The WSJ is reporting that the NASD is investigating the Merrill Lynch call centers, where accounts that are valued at less than $100,000 are placed, rather than being assigned to an individual broker.

The article reports that allegations have been made that "brokers at the firm's two call centers...chose to dump some clients into often unsuitable investments in an attempt to goose firm profits."

Smaller accounts are a problem for the big wirehouses, as they can't seem to make "enough" money from the accounts. Call centers should work, as clients with smaller accounts do not typically need a full time broker. But when the firm starts referring to those accounts as belonging to "poor people" and views handling those accounts as "charity work" as Merrill allegedly did, the firm is going to have some problems.

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