Headquartered in New York City, Merrill Lynch provides wealth management, securities trading and sales, corporate finance, and investment banking services worldwide. The company was founded in 1914 by Charles Merrill who was soon joined by Edmund Lynch. In 1958, the firm changed its name to Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith and joined the board of the New York Stock Exchange as the largest securities firm in the world at that time.
The firm went public in 1971, and in 1973 the firm became the first in the securities business to adopt a holding company format, with Merrill Lynch & Co. as the parent of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, the operating subsidiary. The firm was purchased by Bank of America in 2009 saving Merrill Lynch from bankruptcy. Now Merrill Lynch is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America making Bank of America the largest financial services company in the world with more than 6,000 retail banking offices serving clients in more than 150 countries.
Merrill Lynch is a full-service securities investment firm licensed by FINRA. As such, Merrill Lynch has a legal duty to supervise its brokers and its brokers' recommendations to clients to ensure compliance with and prevent violations of the rules of the security industry. When an individual broker is negligent or acts in an unlawful manner against the interests of the client and that client suffers damages as a result of such wrongdoing, the firm may be held liable for the investor's losses.
Merrill Lynch and brokers backed by Merrill Lynch have faced arbitration and claims over misconduct in the past. In 2010, investors filed claims against the company for losses they sustained in risky collateralized-debt obligations (CDOs). The investors also claimed that the brokers did not fully understand the risks involved with individuals investing in these CDOs. Some of these investors alleged that they personally lost millions with these high-risk, complex investments.
In 2012, Merrill Lynch Advisor James Ryan Lanier was arrested for his involvement in an embezzlement scheme between 2008 and 2010. Allegedly, he used his position as a Merrill Lynch investment adviser in Florida to funnel his clients' money into his own personal bank account. He was charged with stealing $800,000 from clients. He was eventually sentenced to 106 months in federal prison.
In October 2012, a FINRA panel ordered Merrill Lynch to pay $1.3 million because a broker at this firm sold Fannie Mae stock despite warnings of risk. The Merrill Lynch broker, Miles Pure, misrepresented the Fannie Mae stock, calling it "safe." While Pure was not named in the lawsuit, the FINRA panel concluded that Merrill Lynch breached its fiduciary duty.
Merrill Lynch may be part of the largest financial institution in the world, but Meyer Wilson possesses the resources and skills needed to successfully conduct claims of fraud against them. Our investment loss lawyers practice solely in the area of securities fraud, so our strategies and insight are well-honed, allowing us to pursue claims in federal court, state court, arbitration with the American Arbitration Association, and arbitration through FINRA. Our securities arbitration attorneys can even represent international clients with claims against U.S.-based brokerage firms. Our efforts have recovered $350 million for our clients, so do not hesitate to call us or complete our online contact form for a free case evaluation.