Business

LPL Financial settles title inflation case with Mass.

LPL Financial, the Boston-based investment network of independent brokers and investment advisers, will pay $250,000 after the state’s finance regulator said the company gave elevated titles to its broker-dealers and investment advisers whose qualifications didn’t measure up to their titles.

Secretary of State William F. Galvin said Tuesday that the Boston-based investment firm cooperated in its investigation, which found 10 senior designations that might have violated state regulations. The company said it was pleased with the settlement terms and would more closely review its employees’ titles.

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In 2007, Massachusetts became the first state to ban titles that falsely implied an employee had received special training or acquired some expertise in managing elderly people’s finances, Galvin’s office said. Brian McNiff, a spokesman for the regulator, said the LPL penalty is the first time a company has been penalized for violating the senior designation rules.

“In these days when workers are increasingly having to assume responsibility for their retirement savings, it is vital that the financial services industry not employ titles that suggest an expertise in advising senior citizens when none exists,” Galvin said in a statement. “That is why Massachusetts has these rules in place.”

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A spokesman for LPL said the company was pleased with the terms of the settlement, which also included a censure and a cease-and-desist order, Galvin’s office said. The agreement was reached after Galvin’s securities division found that an LPL investment adviser’s title didn’t follow state regulations, and the company said it found 10 other titles that might raise regulatory concerns, a state news release said.

LPL has been fined several times in recent years as it has undergone rapid growth. Earlier this year, the financial industry’s self-regulatory body fined the company $11.7 million for a failure to supervise its employees, and Galvin’s office fined the company $2.5 million in 2013 over similar charges. The company has said that it had fixed or is working to resolve the issues at the core of the complaints.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.
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