A recent media campaign assailing other broker/dealers for improper conduct has come back to bite Edward D. Jones & Co., The Wall Street Journal reports.
More significantly, the firm has just revealed in an SEC filing that regulators have found 8,700 instances where Jones brokers took late trades between 4:01 p.m. and 4:45 p.m. Eastern time, even though the brokers certified they received the orders before the 4 p.m. cutoff. In each of these cases, they either took a new order, modified it or cancelled it. The NASD and the NYSE earlier accused the firm for not having the proper systems in place to adequately police internal trading procedures, charges the firm neither admitted nor denied.
The findings have left Jones, which just agreed to a $75 million for failing to disclose shelf-space arrangements with seven fund companies, with mud on its face. Until recently, the brokerage, which has boasted of its independence from Wall Street research and enjoyed a clean-cut, folksy image, ran an ad saying: "Investors are entitled to transparency. They should know what they are paying and what we, as the broker, are receiving." Signing this statement was none other than Doug Hill, the firm's top executive, who agreed this past Tuesday to step down by the end of next year as part of the firm's settlement with the Justice Department.
The incentives included boondoggles such as trips with an average value of $5,000 to places including Switzerland and the British Virgin Islands.