Originally founded as ING U.S., Voya Financial Advisors, Inc. (“VFA”) is a leading broker-dealer and registered investment adviser (RIA). The firm, which spun off from its predecessors after an independent financial backing through an initial public offering, rebranded as VFA in 2014.
VFA, which is headquartered in Windsor, Connecticut, is owned by Voya Holdings Inc. As of 2022, the firm had 7,200 employees, 14.7M customers, and $741B in total assets under management (AUM) and advisement (AUA).
VFA brokers are licensed in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Financial Misconduct at Voya Financial Advisors, Inc.
VFA is licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and as such is legally obligated to ensure its brokers are acting lawfully in the interest of their investors. If a client suffers losses as a result of negligent behavior or misconduct from a broker, then the firm may be held legally responsible to repay the damages.
VFA and brokers backed by VFA have a long history of misconduct. Per FINRA’s BrokerCheck report, VFA has 42 disclosures (33 regulatory events and 9 arbitrations).
In December 2020, VFA was censured and ordered to pay disgorgement of $11.5M+, prejudgment interest of $2.7M+, and a civil penalty of $9M after the Securities and Exchange Commission initiated a claim against it for overcharging its customers.
The SEC found that from January 13, 2013 through December 31, 2018, VFA breached its fiduciary duties to its clients pertaining to the financial benefits the firm received for advising clients to purchase and hold mutual fund share classes that paid 12B-1 fees when a lower-cost share class was available. In some instances, VFA avoided paying transaction fees.
VFA also gave disclosures that misstated the availability of these lower-cost share classes and how it monitored those purchases. Also, the clearing broker that VFA used for client accounts paid the firm a portion of the revenue it received from cash sweep products in which VFA invested advisory client shares. VFA failed to disclose this to its advisory clients.
And finally, from January 13, 2013 through July 28, 2017, VFA charged upfront commissions to certain advisory clients who purchased illiquid alt products even though those investments were available with commissions waived. At no time did VFA have any supervisory system in place to reasonably prevent the aforementioned violations.
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Meyer Wilson reclaimed $350 million for the victims of investment fraud or misconduct. Our attorneys are experienced in going up against the largest investment firms, such as Voya Financial Advisors, Inc., and our track record affirms our resources and expertise. Meyer Wilson has represented clients nationwide and internationally, in state and federal courts, and in securities arbitration through FINRA and the American Arbitration Association (AAA). As an investor, you have a right to recover investments lost through unethical behavior or decisions made against your interests.