“Soft commissions”—the bundling of order execution services with research—have been debated and regulated for years. This systematic review of the academic literature provides us with the evidence for and against bundling to date.
Brokerage houses historically have provided research and related services together with order execution without separate fees. This practice of research bundling through so-called soft commissions has triggered an intense and ongoing debate considering that research bundling leads to nontransparent pricing and, therefore, can induce agency conflicts. A new European regulation has banned the use of soft commissions by requiring fee separation for execution and research services. Against this backdrop, we provide a systematic review of the literature on soft commissions to build a profound basis for further regulatory discussions and to uncover future research opportunities.