FINRA Slams MetLife with $25 Million Fine for Misrepresenting Variable Annuities

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) slammed MetLife Securities, Inc. (MetLife) with a $25 million fine for negligent misrepresentations and omissions to customers regarding the costs and guarantees relating to variable annuities.  MetLife agreed to the fine, which includes a $20 million fine and $5 million to be paid to customers, without admitting or denying FINRA’s findings. From approximately 2009 to 2014, FINRA found that MetLife falsely told customers that new variable annuities were less costly than the annuities they were replacing.  Further, MetLife made the replacement annuities appear more beneficial to the customer when they were typically more expensive.  According to FINRA, MetLife sold at least 43 billion in variable annuities which generated $152 million in gross dealer commissions for the firm.  Nonetheless, MetLife failed to supervise its registered representatives to ensure they were property trained and informed of the comparative analysis between the variable annuities and the recommended replacement annuities.  In fact, FINRA found that MetLife principals approved 99.79% of the variable annuity replacements, even though three-quarters (3/4) of the replacement applications contained at least one misrepresentation or omission.

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