Raymond James and Robert W. Baird have settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to compliance failures within their wrap fee programs.
SEC investigations found that St. Petersburg, Florida-based Raymond James & Associates and Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. failed to establish policies and procedures necessary to determine the amount of commissions their clients were being charged when sub-advisors “traded away” with a broker-dealer outside the wrap fee programs.
Without this information, the firms’ financial advisors “were unable to provide the magnitude of these costs to clients and did not consider these commissions when determining whether the sub-advisers or the wrap fee programs were suitable for clients, leaving certain clients unaware they were paying additional costs beyond the single wrap fee they paid for bundled investment services,” the SEC states.
Without admitting or denying the charges, Baird and Raymond James consented to the SEC’s orders, with Raymond James agreeing to pay a $600,000 penalty to settle the charges and Baird agreeing to pay a $250,000 penalty.
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“Costs are a critical factor when firms determine whether a particular investment product or strategy is suitable for a client,” said Andrew Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, in a statement. “Baird and Raymond James lacked policies and procedures to consider an entire category of cost information and didn’t fully evaluate whether these wrap fee programs were a good fit for their clients.”