The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says it has ordered Robert W. Baird & Co. to pay close to $417,000 over allegations that it overcharged its customers on equity trades.
From June 2019 through December 2020, the firm’s published commission schedule showed a $100 minimum commission on stock trades, which led to what the industry’s self-regulator calls “unfair” commissions on 7,277 transactions, according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent published by Finra.
One customer who bought two shares of Apple, for example, paid the $100 commission on a principal amount of $772, representing a charge of 13% of the principal, the watchdog says.
Finra has a rule setting a 5% cap on commissions for determining whether they’re fair or reasonable, though it warns that the rule is in fact a guideline, as even a 5% commission, or smaller, could be considered unfair or unreasonable.
In all, Baird charged 4,623 customers at least $266,481 in unfair commissions that ranged from 5% to 93% of the trades’ principal amounts, Finra alleged.
In addition, Baird failed to establish an adequate supervisory system to prevent such violations, according to the industry’s self-regulator.
Baird consented to a censure and a fine of $150,000, as well as to pay restitution of $266,481 plus interest, without admitting or denying the findings, according to the letter of acceptance.