NASD Fines Raymond James $750K: The NASD has censured and fined Raymond James & Associates Inc. and Raymond James Financial Services Inc. $750,000 for violations related to the firms' fee-based brokerage business.As part of the settlement, the firms will also pay restitution to 190 customers totaling $138,000. The firms neither admitted nor denied the charges.

The regulator, formerly known as the National Association of Securities Dealers, said that the firms recommended and opened fee-based brokerage accounts for customers without first determining whether they were appropriate; never monitored the accounts for inactivity; and improperly allowed some fee-based accounts to stay open, violating NASD rules.

Between early 2001 and 2003, the NASD said that Raymond James' registered representatives recommended and opened fee-based accounts for nearly 3,000 "buy and hold" customers who had commission-based accounts for more than one year without executing a trade in the account. The regulator said that 190 of those customers never executed a trade in their fee-based accounts, but paid total fees of approximately $138,000.

It also said that the firms didn't have a supervisory system in place to review and monitor their fee-based brokerage business, but instead relied on their existing supervisory system, which was directed towards its commission-based business.

The firms' fee-based account business grew from 8,600 accounts and $1.8 billion in assets at the end of 2001, to 27,000-plus accounts and nearly $5.5 billion in assets by August 2004.

In addition, the NASD said that some of the advertising and sales literature related to the fee-based accounts "were inaccurate and misleading."

In a statement, St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Raymond James said that it was "satisfied" to have resolved the matter.

The company noted that while it believes that fee-based accounts "represent a sound way of providing service to clients," after three years, the fee-based brokerage alternative represented just 2 percent of its clients.

AssetMark and Fiserv Structure Partner Program: By virtue of a partnership between Fiserv Investment Support Services and AssetMark, advisors who custody client assets with Fiserv ISS will now have access to AssetMark's suite of separately managed account solutions, including individually managed accounts, consolidated managed accounts and separately managed portfolios.

The separately managed account program offered through AssetMark allows Fiserv ISS advisor clients to select from several individual, style-specific investment managers, or complete asset allocation models in one account through AssetMark's recently launched consolidated managed accounts offering.

In addition to separately managed account solutions, advisors working with Fiserv ISS now have the flexibility to offer access to a complete range of AssetMark's investment products, including exchange-traded funds, no-load mutual funds and variable annuities.

College for Financial Planning Launches Certified Senior Advisor Designation: The College for Financial Planning has launched a new designation for advisors that focuses on issues related to working with seniors - a fast-growing age group that it says will represent 20 percent of the population within the next 25 years.

Course topics include trends in aging, chronic illness and long-term care issues for seniors; financial, end-of-life and estate planning; Social Security; Medicaid and tax planning; senior housing; Alzheimer's and dementia; and the social and spiritual aspects of aging. This program also emphasizes building the advisor's practice, including marketing to seniors.

Training for the Certified Senior Advisor designation is offered via a three-and-a-half-day class in more than two dozen U.S. and Canadian cities that includes a proctored exam, or through a self-study program. In addition, an online format will be available in August.

The self-paced and online formats allow candidates up to six months to complete the course, with the same instructors who teach the live program. Students receive videotaped presentations on CDs and use the same textbook and workbook used in the live class. Information on the CSA designation is available at www.cfp.edu.

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