The brokerage unit at Bank of America Corp. has agreed to settle a state regulator’s complaint that it sold inappropriate variable annuities to older seniors in 2003 and 2004.[@@]
Banc of America Investment Services Inc., the brokerage unit of at Bank of America, Charlotte, N.C., says the agreement applies to customers who were 78 years of age or older when they bought the annuities. The company says it agreed to give those customers a chance to get their money back without paying the customary surrender charges.
The agreement with the state’s Securities Division applies to all customers in the age group who bought the variable annuities in 2003 and 2004 from Banc of America Investment Services or Bank of America’s Quick & Reilly subsidiary.
The agreement will be extended to qualified buyers in other states, the company says.
The Massachusetts Securities Division has filed similar charges against a number of other banks and brokerage firms.
The agreement “is a major step toward correcting the abuse of pressuring elderly people into buying these variable annuities without telling them the restrictions that go with them,” Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin says in a statement.
Bank of America has agreed to provide “an expedited review” of VA sales to customers aged 75 to 77 at the time of purchase to assure the product was suitable to them, according to the agreement. The company also has agreed to review its VA sales practices, including procedures to screen prospective VA customers for suitability.
The bank says it will offer the same agreement to eligible customers nationwide. And it says it will reimburse any surrender fees paid by eligible customers who previously liquidated VA contracts bought in 2003 or 2004.
The offer will be extended for 6 months beginning in August, according to Bank of America’s brokerage unit.
“This move is consistent with Bank of America’s continuing commitment to provide its customers with products and services that help meet their financial needs and objectives,” the company says.