For Immediate Release
MONTPELIER, Vt. — The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation (DFR) has joined a North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) multi-state settlement with Raymond James & Associates, Inc. and Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. (collectively, Raymond James). Raymond James is a broker-dealer registered in Vermont and domiciled in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The firm will pay at least $8.2 million in refunds to clients and $4.2 million in penalties and costs to the states for failing to ensure reasonable commission charges on equity transactions, harming main street investors over an approximate five-year period between July 1, 2018, and July 17, 2023.
In Vermont, Raymond James executed over 674 transactions, which included an unreasonable commission for equity transactions requiring full restitution plus interest to its Vermont clients in the amount of $28,198. Raymond James also will pay a penalty of $75,000. Vermont customers eligible for the restitution will be contacted directly by Raymond James by letter mailed to the customer’s last known address.
As part of the settlement, Raymond James will certify in writing within 60 days of the effective date of the order that its policies and procedures have been changed and enhanced to ensure that all commissions are fair and reasonable. Raymond James also has agreed to revise its policies and procedures to ensure that it has established:
- Compliance systems to prevent the imposition of unreasonable or unfair commissions;
- Operational changes designed to ensure, regardless of the principal amount of a transaction, commissions will not exceed 5%, in the absence of a documented exception; and
- Systems that incorporate all equity transactions, regardless of the principal amount of the transaction, when identifying and reviewing potentially excessive commissions.
One year after this certification, Raymond James will undergo a review to confirm the implementation of the changes set forth in the order. The results of this review will be reported to the states.
“The Department is committed to ensuring Vermont investors are treated fairly,” Securities Deputy Commissioner Amanda Smith said. “This settlement reflects the continued collaborative efforts by state securities regulators to protect all investors.”
The consent order can be found on the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation website. Investors can contact the Department by calling 1-877-550-3907 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for investment questions or concerns.
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