The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has hit Wells Fargo Advisors with $1 million in fines for delayed delivery of prospectuses to its mutual fund customers and required regulatory disclosure information about its representatives.
FINRA alleges that about 934,000 Wells Fargo mutual fund customers did not receive prospectuses within three business days of a transaction in 2009 in accordance with federal law. Those customers received the prospectuses from one to 153 days late, FINRA said. Wells Fargo failed to properly address the problem after its third-party service provider it had contracted with for the prospectus delivery alerted the firm to the problem, FINRA said. FINRA did not name that third-party service provider, which Wells Fargo had contracted with in 2009.
“Mutual fund prospectuses contain key information about a fund’s performance, risks, strategies and costs,” FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement Brad Bennett said in a statement. “Wells Fargo ignored reports alerting them to serious problems with its prospectus delivery system and, as a result, its customers were deprived of valuable information needed to make informed investment decisions.”
Wells Fargo also failed to provide timely disclosure reports for representatives currently and previously employed by the firm. That included applications for registration, or U4 forms, and termination notices, U5 forms. From July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, Wells Fargo did not update 8.1% of the U4 forms and 7.6% of the U5 forms on time, FINRA said, filing a total of almost 190 late amendments.
In addition to the $1 million fine, Wells Fargo must put in place new systems and procedures to improve compliance with federal laws and U4 and U5 filings. The firm must provide written certification that it has made those changes within 120 days.
“Wells Fargo Advisors has reached an agreement with FINRA, and is pleased to have resolved this matter and put it behind us,” a Wells Fargo spokesman said. “Wells Fargo Advisors have taken steps to review and modify procedures where appropriate.”
FINRA is an independent, non-governmental regulator of the U.S. securities business.