Five Brokerage Firms Punished For Nebulous "Handling Fees"

Thursday, September 08, 2011 07:25
Five Brokerage Firms Punished For Nebulous

Tags: broker-dealers

FINRA has cracked down on several broker-dealers for failing to disclose that they were loading added fees on top of their normal trading commissions.

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The five firms in question charged "handling fees" of $65 to $99 per trade.


As a result, regulators have fined the companies a total of $910,000 for these and other offenses that showed up during the probe.


FINRA objected to the practice because it was undisclosed and might have functioned as a way to disguise excessive commissions from clients.


Still, if the five firms in question -- mostly in the New York area, but stretching down into Florida and over to Illinois -- derived a lot of money from the practice as FINRA says, the fines seem relatively low.


New York-based JHS Capital Advisors, for example, which earned the biggest of the fines at $300,000, reported $15 million in "commission and transaction income" last year.


That $300,000 seems like a fairly small tax on what FINRA says was "substantial portion of their revenue."


And these firms don't have to stop charging these huge fees. They just have to disclose them as commissions now.


Maybe their clients will balk at their next statement and go elsewhere.


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