The year 2008 proved to be one that none of us will soon forget. While in past years, the broker scene was peppered with mergers and acquisitions and Internet security issues, this year the biggest story was the market itself. With a 38.7% decline in the overall market for 2008, as measured by the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 index, investors had few places to hide during this turmoil. Due to the market unrest, a number of large and small financial institutions ran into money troubles. Some firms were bought out, some were left to file for bankruptcy and others were bailed out by the federal government.
As with most years, our annual survey finds some firms no longer operating and others that have merged. Bank of America declined to be included this year because the firm’s pricing and commission schedules will change in 2009 due to the acquisition of Merrill Lynch (a firm that has not been included in the AAII survey because it is not a discount broker). The firm is expected to participate in next year’s survey.
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