If Salomon Smith Barney issued an official directive asking branch managers to distribute inherited accounts more fairly, as was reported by at least one industry newsletter in September, that directive hasn't filtered down to retail brokers.

SSB reps in New York and Washington state, for example, say they haven't seen any information about new policies regarding distribution of accounts left behind by departing brokers, and certainly haven't received new accounts as the result of such a change.

"That would be terrific, if it's true," says one broker. "But I certainly haven't seen anything like that around here." An SSB spokesperson says that distribution of accounts is up to the discretion of branch managers "in a fair and orderly manner."

In settling a sexual harassment case in July, the firm agreed to develop an inherited account policy because of allegations that women brokers at the firm had not received a fair share of house accounts. One official at the firm, who was not aware of any new policy, notes that the settlement is not yet effective, and so the firm is not yet required to have a new policy in place. The effective date for the settlement is mid-November.

The SSB official says the firm will have a new account-distribution policy ready at that time.

Under the terms of a separate settlement in a different sexual harassment case, Merrill Lynch has reportedly agreed to distribute orphaned accounts without discrimination.