Wells Fargo disclosed it is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding cash sweep options it provides to new investment advisory clients.
The bank revealed the probe in a quarterly filing Tuesday.
Wells Fargo offers three options to its investment advisory clients to earn a return on uninvested balances, which include a standard bank deposit sweep, an expanded bank deposit sweep, and a money market fund sweep. The bank did not elaborate which aspect of its cash sweep program the SEC is investigating.
In previous enforcement cases from earlier this year, the SEC homed in on conflicts of interest related to cash sweep programs.
In September, the agency ordered California-based investment adviser AssetMark to pay more than $18 million for its failure to disclose conflicts of interest related to its affiliate’s cash sweep program. In January, Massachusetts-based investment adviser Moors & Cabot agreed to pay $1.9 million to settle charges it didn’t fairly disclose conflicts of interest in its cash sweep program related to fees paid to two unaffiliated clearing brokers.
AssetMark and Moors & Cabot did not admit or deny the SEC’s allegations but agreed to remediate issues related to their cash sweep programs uncovered by the investigations.
In August 2022, the SEC issued a Regulation Best Interest bulletin reminding investment advisers and broker-dealers the rule requires them to “act in the best interest of a retail customer” and to adequately disclose conflicts of interest to their clients, including those found in cash sweep programs.
In its regulatory filing, Wells Fargo also disclosed the Department of Justice (DOJ) closed its investigation into the bank’s hiring practices related to diversity without taking action. Wells Fargo announced in August 2022 the DOJ had launched the investigation into allegations it conducted sham job interviews with minority applicants.
The bank did not disclose the status of an SEC investigation into the company’s hiring practices related to diversity. Several lawsuits related to the allegations are still pending.