(FINRA Case #2016050259001)
Cetera Advisors LLC (CRD #10299, Denver, Colorado) – An AWC (Accept, Waiver & Consent) was issued in which the firm was censured and required to provide a remediation plan to FINRA to remediate eligible customers who qualified for, but did not receive, an applicable mutual fund sales-charge waiver.
As part of this settlement, the firm agreed to pay restitution to eligible customers, which is estimated to total $628,040 (the amount eligible customers were overcharged, inclusive of interest).
Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it disadvantaged certain retirement plan and charitable organization customers that were eligible to purchase Class A shares in certain mutual funds without a front-end sales charge.
The findings stated that these eligible customers were instead sold Class A shares with a front-end sales charge or Class B or C shares with back-end sales charges and higher ongoing fees and expenses. These sales disadvantaged eligible customers by causing the customers to pay higher fees than they were actually required to pay.
The findings also stated that the firm failed to reasonably supervise the application of sales-charge waivers to eligible mutual fund sales. The firm relied on its financial advisors to determine the applicability of sales-charge waivers, but failed to maintain adequate written policies or procedures to assist financial advisors in making this determination. In addition, the firm failed to adequately notify and train its financial advisors regarding the availability of mutual fund sales-charge waivers for eligible customers.
The firm also failed to adopt adequate controls to detect instances in which they did not provide sales-charge waivers to eligible customers in connection with their mutual fund purchases. As a result of the firm’s failure to apply available sales-charge waivers, the firm estimates that eligible customers were overcharged by at least $553,398 for mutual fund purchases made since July 1, 2009.
If you feel you have been misled regarding investing or overcharged for services and wish to discuss legal action, please contact Darren Blum at 1-877-786-2552 (1-877-STOCK LAW), www.stockattorneys.com for a free consultation.