In April, Merrill Lynch changed the way it compensates brokers on fee business. Instead of larger quarterly payouts, reps now receive three smaller monthly production credits. In the process, the firm will profit from the float on the client fee revenue it holds.

The new crediting schedule covers what the firm calls "annuitized" business--C shares and other trailers, wrap programs and Merrill's Unlimited Advantage fee account.

What used to be say, a 9,000 dollars credit for the quarter beginning in April, will now be broken into three smaller credits--3,000 dollars in April, 3,000 dollars in May and 3,000 dollars in June, according to one Merrill broker.

"The client still pays his fee in April," the rep says. "The reaction here has not been good. Do we really need Merrill Lynch to dole out our payments to us?"

Brokers are now credited on the third Tuesday of each month. Previously, Merrill had credited fee business in January, April, July and October.

"There have been rumblings about this for some time," says another Merrill rep. "If anything, it will level off my paycheck, so I appreciate the change."

Merrill Lynch had no comment on the new payout policy.