Tax service Betterment to pay $9m amid US SEC charges
Betterment LLC has accepted the $9 million penalty U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued for misstatements, poor record-keeping, and disclosure practices.
Betterment LLC is a cash management and robo-advising establishment holding over $34 billion in assets in management and servicing over 770,000 customers. It has acknowledged and consented to pay the $9 million penalty from the SEC due to past record-keeping, disclosure, and misstatement malpractices.
Betterment LLC was investigated by the US SEC and found guilty of misstating or omitting some facts while negotiating with their clients. These malpractices happened between 2016 and 2019 when the company automated its tax loss harvesting practice. The company did not update its clients on the contract changes and did not keep some vital records.
Automated tax-loss harvesting is a mitigation strategy to offset the impacts of the tax on capital gains from a securities sale. The services are offered by robo-adviser by automatically trading securities at a loss.
The SEC noted that more than 25 000 accounts were affected by the malpractices leading to the loss of $4 million in potential tax benefits.
Betterment responded to the allegations without admitting or denying the charges. Instead, the company said they had made notable investments to make their compliance program more reliable since 2019. It dictated that the company is on a mission to improve people’s lives and continues to seek opportunities to improve its services.
Betterment benefits from the ongoing banking crisis
The acceptance comes a few weeks after Betterment CEO, Sarah Kirshbaum Levy, had an interview on the ongoing banking crisis in the US. The official confirmed that the company has benefited from the ongoing transfer of funds from smaller banks to larger banks and an influx in money market funds.
Betterment LLC has made its high-yield cash account more attractive to users by doubling the FDIC insurance for eligible clients. The doubling increased the demand for the high-yield account as the consumers sought funds safety, high yields, and liquidity.
Individual high-yield account holders can access up to 2 million FDIC insurance, 4 million for a joint account, and 8 million for a couple with individual and joint accounts.
The company is focused on improving its customer trust and offering fund security. Betterment is also working with 12 banks to achieve this.