Wells Fargo, Raymond James, LPL penalized for overcharging charities


Wells Fargo, Raymond James Financial and LPL Financial were forced to repay more than $30 million to customers after overcharging them on mutual fund fees.

The banks were supposed to waive sales charges for certain charitable and retirement accounts and failed to do so, according to a statement Monday from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. More than 50,000 eligible accounts paid higher fees since at least July 2009 at the three financial firms. Wells Fargo owes affected customers an estimated $15 million, Raymond James will return $8.7 million and LPL will repay $6.3 million.

“While Wells Fargo, Raymond James and LPL failed to ensure that customers received these discounts, Finra’s sanctions acknowledge that the firms detected and self-reported these errors, and will provide full restitution to customers,” Brad Bennett, head of enforcement at Finra, said in the statement.

The firms didn’t admit or deny Finra’s allegations.

Regulators are taking a closer look into retirement accounts. The Securities and Exchange Commission has made retirement investing a priority in its exams this year, focusing on how investments are sold and if they’re suitable for customers.

San Francisco-based Wells Fargo has its largest employee hub in Charlotte, and Boston-based LPL has a Charlotte office that it’s moving across the border to Fort Mill. Raymond James is based in St. Petersburg, Fla.