FINRA has fined Fifth Third Securities $1.75 million for a series of violations related to variable annuity sales and exchanges.

FINRA said the brokerage made 250 unsuitable sales and exchanges to 197 customers through 42 individual brokers. FINRA also said Fifth Third didn’t have adequate supervisory systems or procedures to sell and exchange annuities.

On top of the fine, Fifth Third must pay $260,000 back to 74 customers to compensate them for surrender charges in the unsuitable transactions.

“Variable annuities are complex investments that are designed to be retirement savings vehicles and are meant for the long-term investor,” said Susan L. Merrill, executive vice president and chief of enforcement at FINRA. “Firms must be diligent in their efforts to ensure VA sales and exchanges are suitable and the firm’s systems and procedures are robust enough to adequately supervise their sales force, particularly in connection with brokers newly acquired from other firms.”

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