Self-regulator Finra has censured and fined Edward Jones for allegedly understating the damages sought in customer complaints, the industry organization says.
Between April 2016 and March 2018, Edward Jones filed 158 forms reporting alleged damages of $5,000 or more, claiming in 114 of them that the damage amount was $5,000 although it also included a note saying, "$5,000 or more/cannot determine amount,” according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent published by Finra.
But in 69 of those 114 cases, the actual amounts were allegedly often far higher: in one instance, a customer complaint sought damages of $93,139 over allegedly excessive sales, the regulator says. In another case, the customer sought damages of $630,000 over allegedly excessive fees and charges, according to the letter of consent. Finra says that the inaccuracies were due to “a misunderstanding by certain of Edward Jones’ associates about the applicable requirements for disclosing customers’ complaints.”
Edward Jones agreed to a censure, a $40,000 fine and a written certification that it has reviewed the systems governing the handling of customer complaints, detailing the steps it took to achieve compliance with Finra’s rules, the regulator says. The company consented to the sanctions without admitting or denying the regulator’s findings, according to Finra.
Among consumers, meanwhile, Edward Jones recently ranked as one of the most trusted firms, as reported.
Retail investor research firm Hearts and Wallets found that the firm, along with Charles Schwab, led the pack in terms of consumers who planned to increase assets held with the firms. Edward Jones also ranked highly among consumers in terms of whether they would recommend the firm to others.