RBC Wealth Management has spent $3.9 million to repay customers and pay a fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission to settle a customer-overcharges case similar to one brought against RBC and dozens of other firms in 2018.
The SEC found that Minneapolis-based RBC for years had sold mutual funds to pension plans and foundations that were more expensive when they should have gotten lower-priced classes of shares that were available in the same investments.
“RBC did so without disclosing that it would receive greater compensation from the customers’ purchases of the more expensive share classes,” the SEC said in an order in late April.
The agency said RBC’s customers “did not have sufficient information to understand that RBC had a conflict of interest resulting from compensation it received for selling the more expensive share classes” and that RBC didn’t have “adequate systems and controls in place” that resulted in overcharging about 2,400 institutional customers.
In response, RBC said in a statement, “RBC Wealth Management is committed to ensuring … its advisers operate in accordance with the regulations governing our industry. In the rare case that an issue arises, we work quickly to address it, compensate clients and put into place processes to prevent it from happening in the future.”
The settlement followed a similar one announced in March 2019 between the SEC and 79 investment advisers for $125 million in a broader investigation of mutual fund sales. RBC paid back $11.7 million plus interest to customers in that case.
The April action against RBC indicates the SEC is “still keenly focused on the topic,” Investment News, an industry publication, reported.
The SEC ultimately returned more than $139 million to investors under the earlier probe and voluntary cooperation by RBC and the other firms. RBC was not fined in the earlier case because it and the other firms self-reported the infraction after the SEC announced the industrywide probe.