Raymond James, Merrill Lynch repay $12M to customers
Merrill Lynch, Raymond James & Associates and Raymond James Financial Services have agreed to pay a total of $12 million in restitution to customers who incurred excess fees on their investments in 529 savings plans. Those plans are tax-advantaged municipal securities that are designed to encourage saving for the future educational expenses of a designated beneficiary. FINRA, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to investor protection and market integrity, said in a news release that the firms failed to reasonably supervise 529 plan share-class recommendations. In settling the matter, Merrill Lynch, Raymond James & Associates and Raymond James Financial Services neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA’s findings. Merrill Lynch agreed to pay about $4 million, Raymond James & Associates will pay $3.8 million and Raymond James Financial Services will pay $4.2 million. The two Raymond James businesses are both part of St. Petersburg-based Raymond James Financial (NYSE: RJF).