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Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Kirk G. Smith
Super Lawyers Samuel B. Edwards
Super Lawyers William S. Shephard
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Lawyers Of Distinction 2018

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc (BofA Securities and Merrill)

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith: Mergers and Acquisitions 

Once a publicly-traded United States investment bank that was founded in 1914, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc. was acquired by Bank of America (BAC) in 2008. Merrill Lynch then was merged with Banc of America Securities, LLC to become Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML). In 2019, the latter was split into BofA Securities, Inc. and Merrill Lynch, which was rebranded as Merrill.

Our broker fraud lawyers represent retail investors, high net worth individual investors and institutional investors in recovering the losses they sustained due to the negligence or misconduct of a Bank of America Securities or Merrill stockbroker.

Contact Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm at investorlawyers.com) at (800) 259-9010 today if you are one of these investors and would like to explore your legal options.

Bank of America (BofA) Securities

BofA Securities is Bank of America’s investment banking division. Headquartered in New York, it provides prime broker-dealer and broker activities, as well as services related to research, mergers and acquisitions, equity and debt capital markets, trading, lending, risk management, and liquidity and payments management.

In 2011, while still called Bank of America Merrill Lynch, this investment bank was ranked number two globally in terms of revenue among other investment banks with a 7.4% global market share. Bank of America Merrill Lynch became BofA Securities in 2019.

Merrill (Formally Known as Merrill Lynch) 

Also headquartered in New York, Merrill is Bank of America’s investing and wealth management division and oversees some $2.3 trillion in client assets. Like BofA Securities, Merrill offers prime broker and brokerage firm services. This division also operates an electronic trading platform called Merrill Edge.

Also, under Merrill, there is:

  • Merrill Lynch Wealth Management
  • Merrill Guided Investing
  • Merrill Private Wealth Management for high-net-worth individuals, families, and businesses
Key, Recent Disclosures Involving Merrill Lynch 

In recent years, Merrill Lynch has been involved in several customer disputes, FINRA arbitration cases and SEC filings. Below are various noteworthy disclosures.

  • 2020: The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) ordered Merrill Lynch to pay over $7.2M in restitution plus interest to customers who paid unnecessary sales fees and other excessive charges for mutual fund transactions.
  • 2019: Merrill Lynch consented to pay over $8M to settle US Securities and Exchange (SEC) charges over the firm’s handling of “pre-released” American depository receipts (ADRs). The regulator contends that Merrill Lynch improperly borrowed these ADRs from other brokers that did not own the foreign shares required to support them. As a result, a foreign issuer’s tradeable securities were inflated, and abusive practices, including dividend arbitrage and unsuitable short-selling, occurred. The firm consented to disgorge over $4.4M in ill-gotten gains, as well as pay a $2.89M penalty and $724K in prejudgment interest.
  • 2018: In the wake of SEC charges alleging that the firm misled brokerage customers about trading venues, Merrill Lynch agreed to pay a $42M penalty.
  • 2018: The SEC fined Merrill Lynch $5.2M for lying to customers about residential mortgage-backed security (RMBS) prices. The firm agreed to repay $10.5M to those who were financially harmed.
  • 2016: Merrill Lynch not only agreed to pay $415M for misusing customer funds but also admitted to wrongdoing. This included taking part in certain complex options trades while artificially lowering the required customer cash deposit in a reserve account. The Bank of America subsidiary used billions of dollars that were freed up by this to fund its own trading activities between 2009 and 2012.
Bank of America Acquisition of Merrill Lynch 

The purchase of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith by Bank of America took place in September 2008. The acquisition saved Merrill Lynch from having to file for bankruptcy. The deal happened during the financial crisis and after the fall of Lehman Brothers.

At the time, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith had been contending with a number of high-profile missteps, including its involvement as a lead underwriter in the mortgage-based collateralized debt obligation (CDO) market. Many of the CDOs eventually failed. In 2009, Rabobank sued Merrill over the CDO called Norma, and bond insurer MBIA sued over the "ML-Series" CDOs.

Merrill also was accused of misrepresenting the risks involved in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) to investors. According to Bloomberg in 2008, the firm lost $51.8 billion on these investments during the subprime mortgage crisis.

Experienced Securities Fraud Law Firm 

For over 30 years, our securities fraud lawyers have fought for investors, collectively recovering many millions of dollars for them through FINRA arbitration, mediation, and litigation. SSEK Law Firm has the skills, experience, and resources to go after the largest firms on Wall Street.

Call us at (800) 259-9010 today or contact us online to determine whether you have grounds for an investor claim related to your BofA Securities or Merrill Lynch investment losses.

Shepherd Smith Edwards & Kantas LTD LLP Law Firm Provides Legal Counsel for Claims Against Merrill Lynch
Team Photo

Our law firm represents institutional and individual investors nationwide with significant losses in their portfolios, retirement plans or investment accounts. Our attorneys and staff have more than 100 years of combined experience in the securities industry and in securities law. Several of our lawyers served for years as Vice President or Compliance Officer of brokerage firms.

Each lawyer and staff member of our firm is devoted to assisting investors recover losses caused by unsuitability, over-concentration, fraud, misrepresentation, self-dealing, unauthorized trades or other wrongful acts, whether intentional or negligent. We have handled over a thousand cases against hundreds of large and small investment firms, including against Merrill Lynch.

Call us at (800) 259-9010 or contact us through our Website to arrange a free confidential consultation with an attorney to discuss your experiences with an investment advisor or financial firm which resulted in losses.

Client Reviews
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"I am going to miss conversations with you, Sam Edwards. You’ve been a wonderful lawyer and a friend. I loved learning legal jargon from you. But, even more, it is your self respect and commitment to your position that I admire and your persistent patience-your equanimity. With great appreciation, thank you!" M.B.
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"I want you to know that I very much appreciate your expertise, hard work and guidance that led to a satisfactory resolution with Raymond James. From our first meeting, I felt "heard" and that my situation and story were respected. Every subsequent interaction I had with any of you - in person, via email or by phone - only corroborated that feeling. What great work you do on behalf of people like me who have been wronged, yet don't know how to navigate the appeals/mediation/arbitration process as you do. I will be forever grateful." M.L.
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