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Articles Tagged with Fidelity Investments

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is accusing Commonwealth Equity Services, also known as Commonwealth Financial Network, of not notifying clients that it had material conflicts of interest involving certain investments. This purportedly allowed the investment adviser and brokerage firm to earn more than $100M in revenue sharing involving certain mutual funds.

The SEC contends that since at least 2007, Commonwealth had a deal with National Financial Services and a Fidelity Investments affiliate that the majority of its Preferred Portfolio Service advisory clients were obligated to utilize when trading in their accounts. As part of the agreement, clients have to choose National Financial Services as its clearing broker for their investment accounts.

Whenever these advisory clients would invest in specific mutual fund shares, Commonwealth received a portion of the money that certain mutual fund companies paid National Financial Services to make trades on the platform. Also as part of the deal between National Finance Services and Commonwealth is that the clearing broker would share recurring mutual fund fees with the investment adviser. This was determined by the latter’s client assets that were invested in specific mutual fund share classes that didn’t charge a transaction fee.

National Financial Services, which is Fidelity Investments’ clearing and custody unit, has given its brokerage firm clients 90 days to get rid of all GPB Capital Holdings private placements from its platform. The announcement means that investors and their financial advisers will have to move their GPB fund assets to a different custodial firm. Considering that there are a lot of broker-dealers who use National Financial as their primary custodial firm and to clear the investments of clients, the decision is likely to impact a lot of parties.

A main reason for the edict is that, reportedly, neither Fidelity nor National Financial are clear about the actual value of the GPB private placements. Third-party vendors typically provide this information. According to InvestmentNews, Fidelity spokesperson Nicole Abbott said that at the moment GPB is not meeting her company’s policy regarding alternative investments.

In Trouble with Investors and Regulators

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