Raymond James has agreed to pay $15 million to settle charges that three of its subsidiaries improperly charged retail investors, costing them millions, the regulatory agency said today.

The improper charges happened from 2013 to 2018 and all involved instances where clients were charged higher advisory and brokerage fees than were necessary, according to the SEC.

Some of the charges happened after Raymond James subsidiaries Raymond James & Associates Inc. and Raymond James Financial Services Advisors Inc. failed to consistently perform reviews of advisory acounts that had no trading activity for at least one year to deterimine if clients should be moved to brokerage accounts, the SEC said. The lack of checks resulted in clients being charged excessive advisory fees, according to the SEC's order.

"Because they did not conduct the reviews properly, they failed to determine whether the client’s fee-based advisory account was suitable," the SEC said in a press release. The inactive accounts paid Raymond James about $4.9 million in advisory fees, the order said.

The subsidiaries also overcharged clients by using the wrong pricing data in certain unit investment trusts (UITs) held by advisory clients, the SEC said.

Also, Raymond James & Associates and Raymond James Financial Services Inc. recommended that their brokerage customers sell UITs before their maturity and buy new UITs without adequately determining whether these recommendations were suitable, resulting in clients paying higher sales commissions than if they held the UITs to maturity before buying new ones, the SEC said. The violations resulted in about 2,044 brokerage accounts paying about $5.5 million in excess sales charges, the SEC said.

Raymond James issued the following response to the SEC announcement: "We are pleased to have these matters concluded and have revised our policies and procedures to address the supervisory enhancements required by the SEC at Raymond James and a number of competitor firms. The firm has completed remediation with the appropriate clients and looks forward to continuing to provide best-in-industry service in support of their goals."

Under the order, Raymond James will pay disgorgement of $11 million,  prejudgment interest of $1 million and a $3 million civil penalty, the SEC said.

“Investment advisers and broker-dealers have ongoing obligations to their clients and customers,” C. Dabney O’Riordan, co-chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s Asset Management Unit, said in a prepared statement. “Raymond James’ failures cost their advisory clients and brokerage customers millions that will be repaid as part of this settlement."