JPMorgan Chase & Co. executives have been deposed and thousands of pages of internal documents subpoenaed as part of a U.S. investigation into the bank’s asset-management unit, according to people familiar with the situation.
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division is looking at whether senior asset-management executives at the bank developed a policy of improperly steering clients into investments for JPMorgan’s own financial gain, these people said.
The SEC is scrutinizing, among other things, how the largest U.S. bank by assets managed pensions and other accounts that hold it to a so-called fiduciary standard, which obligates it to put clients’ financial interests ahead of its own.
Those questions echo a broader national discussion over biased financial advice. The White House is backing a U.S. Labor Department effort to apply the fiduciary standard to brokers who handle retirement accounts. The SEC, which regulates investment advisors, said this month it will explore applying the same standard to all financial advisors.
The SEC’s investigation into potential conflicts of interest at JPMorgan, a probe that began roughly two years ago, has become more active in recent months, the people said. It is being assisted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees national banks, according to another person who was briefed on the matter.
Darin Oduyoye, a spokesman for New York-based JPMorgan, declined to comment. The SEC declined to comment through spokeswoman Florence Harmon.
Among the first executives deposed was Silvia Trillo, according to people familiar with the investigation. Trillo is an executive director who develops strategies for multi-manager portfolios, her LinkedIn profile says.
There is no indication that Trillo has been involved in or accused of wrongdoing. Contacted by phone, she declined to comment.
The SEC is looking into whether the bank and its brokerage affiliate, J.P. Morgan Securities, adopted a strategy that uses bonuses and other incentives to encourage their financial advisors to steer clients improperly into in-house funds, structured notes and other investments that generate fees for the bank, the people familiar with the matter said.