On March 31, 2015, Bloomberg reported that JPMorgan Chase & Co. executives have been deposed and thousands of pages of internal documents subpoenaed as part of a U.S. investigation into the bank’s asset-management unit, according to people familiar with the situation.
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division is purportedly investigating whether senior asset-management executives at the bank and its brokerage affiliate, J.P. Morgan Securities, developed a strategy that used bonuses and other incentives to improperly encourage their financial advisers to steer pension, institutional and retirement account clients into in-house funds, structured notes and other investments that generate fees for the bank – a practice that is internally referred to as “guided architecture” according to the Bloomberg report.
Regulators are also reportedly interested in the bank’s use of its own funds inside products it has marketed to retail investors, including an all-in-one investment called the “Chase Strategic Portfolio.”
The SEC’s investigation into potential conflicts of interest at JPMorgan, a probe that began roughly two years ago, has reportedly become more active in recent months. It is being assisted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees national banks.
JPMorgan’s asset-management unit has faced criticism in recent years, including by advisers who alleged they were pressured to sell in-house products even when it wasn’t in their clients’ best interests. JPMorgan’s asset-management unit includes investment advisers — who oversee pensions, trusts and private accounts — and also manages funds in which those clients could invest, generating fees for the bank.