J.P. Morgan’s brokerage business has agreed to pay $4 million to settle charges that it misled high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients and prospects about the way its advisors are paid, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Wednesday.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC falsely stated on its private banking website and in marketing materials that advisors are compensated “based on our clients’ performance; no one is paid on commission.” The SEC says JPMS did not pay commissions to registered representatives in its U.S. Private Bank, but neither were compensations based on client performance. Advisors were instead paid a salary and a discretionary bonus based on a number of other factors.
“JPMS misled customers into believing their brokers had skin in the game and were being compensated based on the success of customer portfolios. But none of the factors JPMS used to determine broker compensation was tied to portfolio performance,” says Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC Enforcement Division.
JPMS acknowledged several times that the statements used from 2009 to 2011 in the marketing material were inaccurate, but did not correct them until 2012, the SEC says.
“Broker-dealers like JPMS have self-interest in representing that their monetary interests are aligned with their customers. JPMS misled customers by falsely claiming that the compensation of its registered representatives was tied to the success of the client’s portfolio,” says Eric I. Bustillo, director of the SEC’s Miami Regional Office.
Without admitting or denying the findings, JPMS agreed to the settlement, which also includes a censure by the SEC.