Wells Fargo Advisors has joined Merrill Lynch in tightening policies governing the acceptance of perks such as meals and gifts from third-party providers like investments managers and insurance companies.

While Merrill Lynch has curtailed the ability of its advisors to accept gifts, meals and entertainment from wholesalers, Wells Fargo focused only on the meals, according to Wells Fargo spokeswoman Jackie Knolhoff.

She said the company is following guidelines issued in July by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (Finra), which allowed third-party vendors to send advisors ready-to-eat meals to be consumed during scheduled virtual meetings. “We, too, made a policy change to allow this to happen. Same for advisors and clients,” she said, explaining that the meals need to be for the meetings only.

Knolhoff said no changes have been made to Wells Fargo's gift policy.

Meanwhile, Merrill Lynch released a memo it sent to employees that laid out new restrictions on gifts, meals and entertainment when dealing with product and service providers.

“We’re enhancing our policies around engaging with third party product and service providers with respect to gifts, meals and entertainment. These changes further ensure business interactions with third parties continue to be in the best interest of our clients, the memo stated.

According to the memo, employees are permitted to accept novelty items bearing the name and logo of third-party providers, but the items must cost less than $50. Matt Card, a company spokesman, said employees previously could accept a gift valued up to $100 per employe, per firm, per year.

The bigger change, however, has to do with meals and entertainment perks, including golf outings, and theater and sporting event tickets. Card explained that previously, third-party providers could spend up to $300 per employee, per event, for a cumulative total not to exceed $1,000 per year. Now, employees can only accept meals provided by third-party providers if they are associated with approved training or educational-type events.

The policy also made clear that third-party providers are not permitted to fund entertainment that Merrill Lynch provides to clients, nor are they allowed to provide entertainment to employees. However, it noted that employees can attend business entertainment events and meals hosted by third-party providers as long as they cover their own expenses.

The restrictions come at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has limited the social interactions that have traditionally been a big part of dealmaking among Wall Street sales representatives.