US - The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged Merrill Lynch with conflicts of interest and misleading pension fund clients when advising over its money manager programmes.
As a result, the SEC said, the company and its investment advisors "could and often did" receive "significantly higher revenue" from clients who chose Merrill Lynch directed brokerage services.
SEC's Division of Enforcement deputy director Scott W. Friestad said: "There has been tremendous growth in the pension consulting business in recent years.
"This case is an important reminder to firms and their investment adviser representatives that, whenever they sit across the table from their advisory clients, they need to make sure that all material conflicts of interest are disclosed."
The SEC also made similar conflict of interest allegations against the company in recommending its London-based transition management desk to clients.
Merrill Lynch has accepted the charges and agreed to pay a fine of US$1m.
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Malcolm Mclean says getting the channels of communication right and engaging more openly is a good starting point