Thursday, December 22, 2016

FINRA Statutory Disqualifications and the MC-400 Process

Under the Securities Exchange Commission’s authority FINRA promulgates rules of its own as a self regulatory organization (“SRO”). Pursuant to FINRA’s By-Laws (and the By-Laws of the NASD and the NYSE before it) a person may be disqualified from membership. A person disqualified from membership would be prohibited from participation in the securities industry. In July 2007 FINRA adopted a revised version of the NASD’s definition of disqualification contained in its By-Laws such that any person subject to a statutory disqualification under the Securities Exchange Act Section 3(a)(39) also is subject to disqualification under FINRA’s By-Laws.

Prior to the amendment, the NASD’s By-Laws listed some, but not all, of the grounds for statutory disqualification contained in Exchange Act Section 3(a)(39). However, after the amendment to the NASD’s then existing By-Laws, FINRA’s By-Laws provided that: “A person is subject to a ‘disqualification’ with respect to membership, or association with a member, if such person is subject to any ‘statutory disqualification’ as such term is defined in Section 3(a)(39) of the [Securities Exchange Act of 1934].”

The revised definition of disqualification incorporated three additional categories of statutory disqualification which previously did not exist. One of those additional categories of disqualification comes from the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Section 604 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act expanded the definition of statutory disqualification under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 by creating Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H) and then incorporating it into Exchange Act Section 3(a)(39). As a result of this change, statutory disqualification under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H) includes a person that:
is subject to any final order of a State securities commission (or any agency or officer performing like functions), State authority that supervises or examines banks, savings associations, or credit unions, State insurance commission (or any agency or office performing like functions), an appropriate Federal banking agency (as defined in section 3 of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act (12 U.S.C. 1813(q))), or the National Credit Union Administration, that --
1. bars such person from association with an entity regulated by such commission, authority, agency, or officer, or from engaging in the business of securities, insurance, banking, savings association activities, or credit union activities; or
2. constitutes a final order based on violations of any laws or regulations that prohibit fraudulent, manipulative, or deceptive conduct.
This revised definition of statutory disqualification became effective as of July 2007. The effect of the revised definition would have been the immediate disqualification of a large number of individuals subject to the new categories of disqualification. In order to remain in the securities industry, these individuals would have had to utilize the then existing NASD eligibility proceedings for persons subject to disqualification; i.e. NASD Rule 9520.

In order to avoid this result, the NASD requested that the Securities Exchange Commission Staff not recommend enforcement action to the Commission under Exchange Act Section 15A(g)(2) or Rule 19h-1(a) for those persons subject to the new definition of disqualification until the NASD could update and improve its eligibility proceedings to address the changes to the definition of statutory disqualification. As a result, the SEC, by Chief Counsel Catherine McGuire, issued a No Action Letter on July 27, 2007, informing the NASD that it would not seek enforcement against the individuals subject to the new categories of statutory disqualification if NASD did not file notice with the Commission for enforcement between the time the amended By-Laws containing the revised definition of statutory disqualification became effective and the effective date of the revised eligibility procedures. This would mean that those persons subject to the revised definition could continue membership in FINRA without going through the application process for eligibility pending the adoption of the revised eligibility procedures.

In April 2009, FINRA released Regulatory Notice 09-19 which set forth the amendments to FINRA Rule 9520 Series to become effective June 15, 2009. The revised FINRA Rule 9520 Series established procedures applicable to firms and associated persons subject to the additional statutory disqualifications as a result of the adoption of the revised definition of disqualification. Under this new construct of the Rule 9520 Series, individuals subject to one of the additional categories of disqualification would need to seek FINRA’s approval to enter or remain in the securities industry by way of an application with FINRA’s Department of Registration and Disclosure (“RAD”) only under certain circumstances. The need to file an application depends on 1) the type of disqualification; 2) the date of the disqualification; and 3) whether the firm or individual was seeking admission, readmission or continuance in the securities industry.


There are likely four different ways that a member of FINRA would know that they are required to file an application with RAD as a result of the application of revised Rule 9520 Series to an order of a state securities commission. First, Regulatory Notice 09-19 states that as of June 15, 2009, FINRA began reviewing its records to identify persons that met any of the additional conditions that would require the filing of an application under the revised Rule 9520 Series. In what manner FINRA has undertaken this review is unknown. Second, an individual could identify on their own that they are subject to an existing order which would require an application with RAD.

Third, if someone is seeking to transfer their registration to a new broker-dealer, then any existing state orders which would require an application with RAD as a result of the revised Rule 9520 Series would be disclosed by the CRD (the central licensing and registration system for the U.S. securities industry and its regulators) when it is reviewed by FINRA. Fourth, if an individual is subject to a new order of a state regulator, then an alert is sent out to all other state regulators as well as FINRA through the CRD. Whether FINRA reviews each alert it receives in order to decide to take action against an individual subject to an order of a state securities commission is unknown.

For those subject to a statutory disqualification arising from orders specified in Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(i) and Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(ii), find below an outline of the circumstances under which the person must file an application with RAD under FINRA’s revised Rule 9520 Series:


A. If the person is seeking admission or re-admission to the industry; and
1. the person is subject to an order under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(i), then the person must file an application unless the order imposing a bar on the person is time-limited and the time period is expired. However, if the bar is related to Fraudulent, Manipulative or Deceptive (“FMD”) conduct, then the person must submit an application under the circumstances described in section I.B.
2. the person is subject to an order under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(ii), then the person must submit an application unless:
i. the sanctions do not involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions) and the sanctions are no longer in effect; or

ii. the sanctions do involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions), the sanctions are no longer in effect, and the order was entered 10 or more years ago.

B. If the person was, as of March 17, 2009, a member of, or an associated person of a member of FINRA or another SRO, and was subject to a statutory disqualification as of that same date and is seeking to continue in the industry; and

1. the person is subject to an order under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(i); and
i. the bar is no longer in effect and is not related to FMD conduct, then no application is required.

ii. the bar is still in effect and is not related to FMD conduct then no application is required unless there is a “triggering event” - which occurs when the person subject to the statutory disqualification either changes employers or the member firm makes an application for the registration of such person as a principal pursuant to FINRA rules.

iii. the bar is still in effect and is related to FMD conduct, then an application is required.

2. the person is subject to an order under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(ii), then an application is required unless:

i. the sanctions do not involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions), and the sanctions are no longer in effect; or

ii. the sanctions do not involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions), and the sanctions are still in effect, in which event an application is required only if there is a triggering event; or

iii. the sanctions do involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions), and the sanctions are no longer in effect, and the order was entered 10 or more years ago. However, if the order was issued less than 10 years ago, then an application is required if there is a triggering event.

C. If the person was, as of March 17, 2009, a member of, or an associated person of a member of FINRA or another SRO, and is subject to a statutory disqualification that arose after March 17, 2009, and is seeking to continue in the industry; and

1. the person is subject to an order under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(i), then the person must file an application unless the order imposing a bar on the person is time-limited and the time period is expired. However, if the bar is related to FMD conduct, then the person must submit an application under the circumstances described in section III.B.

2. the person is subject to an order under Exchange Act Section 15(b)(4)(H)(ii), then an application is required unless:

i. the sanctions do not involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions) and the sanctions are no longer in effect; or

ii. the sanctions do involve licensing or registration revocation or suspension (or analogous sanctions), the sanctions are no longer in effect, and the order was entered 10 or more years ago.
Some more recent articles touching upon this process include: “Stockbroker's DUI Puts Career in the FINRA Ditch” by Bill Singer, “Bankrupt Stockbroker Winds Up Statutorily Disqualified” by Bill Singer, “U-4 Omissions and Statutory Disqualification:Much Ado About Nothing” by Alan Wolper. Do not hesitate to call us if you or your broker-dealer need assistance with a potential MC-400 application.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

NASAA Releases Its 2016 Enforcement Report



The North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) recently released its Enforcement Report for 2016, an annual publication providing a general overview of the activities of the state securities agencies responsible for the protection of investors who purchase investment advice or securities. Admittedly, the information undercounts many statistics due to differences in fiscal year reporting and a lack of response or underreporting for each survey question posed. However, trends in the 52 U.S. jurisdictions are still apparent in the report.[i]

For the first time since NASAA began tracking enforcement statistics, more registered than unregistered individuals and firms were subject to respondent status.[ii] During 2015, state securities regulators conducted 5,000 investigations and brought 2,000 enforcement actions against 2,700 respondents, which often involved more than one individual or company.[iii]

Sanctions imposed upon those who were found in violation of securities law ranged from incarceration to monetary relief and bans on trading. The year witnessed a combined 849 years of imprisonment, 410 years of probation, and 23 years of deferred prosecution, as well as $538m paid in restitution and $238m in fines/penalties.[iv] In addition to criminal and monetary repercussions, revocation and disbarment from the industry occurred for more than 250 individuals, while another 475 licenses/registrations were denied, suspended or conditioned.[v]   

The five most common violations prompting these actions were, in order of frequency: Ponzi Schemes, Real Estate Investment Program Fraud, Oil & Gas Investment Program Fraud, Internet Fraud, and Affinity Fraud.[vi]

The NASAA report found that Ponzi scheme victims were often targeted through the internet or for identifiable attributes, such as race or religion. The report also found that vulnerable seniors were disproportionately victims; jurisdictions that reported on seniors found one-third of all investigations related to their victimization.[vii]

Prison terms have become more common for those conducting such schemes, such as Derek Nelson, found guilty of selling about $37m in promissory notes for property purchases that never took place. As a consequence, Mr. Nelson received 19 years in prison.[viii]

Real estate and oil and gas investment fraud was also a major concern for reporting NASAA members. Some states, such as Colorado, have sought judicial remedy and have secured investor protection by winning the right to have oil and gas interests subject to securities law.[ix]

The report clearly states that all fraud has been made easier to accomplish due to the internet, where only basic computer skills allow an individual from anywhere in the world to “enter” the homes of investors. Scott Campbell was sentenced to 20 years in prison for conducting a Ponzi scheme over the internet from Florida. Alabama garnered 18 convictions in an international bank scheme conducted through Craigslist.[x] Affinity frauds, in which an individual purports to be a member of a certain group, are much easier to accomplish given the anonymity of the internet.

The industry’s heightened attention to elder abuse has not shielded those responsible for supervision or oversight. Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and Fulcrum Securities, LLC were ordered to pay $470,000 to investors for their failure to oversee Christopher Cunningham of Virginia, who defrauded elderly clients in a Ponzi scheme. For his part, Cunningham was disbarred and sentenced to 57 months in federal prison.[xi]

Attorneys are not immune to abusing their positions in order to perpetrate fraud. According to the report, Michael Kwasnik, an estate planning attorney, used his position of trust to perpetrate a $10m Ponzi scheme against elderly victims in New Jersey. The Court found that he had taken advantage of the attorney-client trust. Earlier in the year, Kwasnik also pled guilty to securities fraud in Delaware, utilizing the client trust account of his law firm to commingle monies from both frauds. Though Mr. Kwasnik received no jail time, he was ordered to repay millions in lost monies, amongst other judgments.[xii]

What may be the single worst case of elder victimization presented in NASAA’s annual report was perpetrated by Sean Meadows, owner of a financial planning and asset management firm, Meadows Financial Group LLC (MFG). Meadows perpetrated a $13m Ponzi scheme against 100 individuals, some disabled, poor, or terminally ill. He took the life savings of most, luring them into draining their retirement accounts. Many lost their homes, ability to care for their families, and even pay for cancer treatments.[xiii]

Meadows convinced his victims to pull money out of tax-deferred accounts to invest with MFG, promising these transactions would be tax-free rollovers. He then convinced these same individuals to allow him to do their taxes, in order to cover up the scheme. He either filed fraudulent tax returns or filed nothing at all. As a result, in addition to losing retirement savings, many incurred significant tax liabilities. For his crimes, Meadows received 25 years in prison.[xiv]

As the NASAA report makes clear, positive steps are being taken by its members to address the fraudulent and criminal activities of some individuals and firms. Laura Posner, NASAA Enforcement Section Chair, believes enhanced regulatory scrutiny is responsible for the increase in action documented by the report.[xv] However, it is still necessary to be on alert for promises that seem too good to be true. If you feel you may have fallen victim, please seek consultation from an attorney immediately.   


[i] North American Securities Administrators Association (2016) NASAA 2016 Enforcement Report (Based on 2015 Data) [Electronic Format]. Retrieved from: http://nasaa.cdn.s3.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/2016-Enforcement-Report-Based-on-2015-Data_online.pdf. (pp. 11)
[ii] Ibid. pp. 5
[iii] Ibid. pp. 2
[iv] Ibid. pp. 3
[v] Ibid. pp. 4
[vi] Ibid. pp. 4
[vii] Ibid. pp. 5
[viii] Ibid. pp. 6-7
[ix] Ibid. pp. 4-5
[x] Ibid. pp. 7
[xi] Ibid. pp. 7
[xii] Ibid. pp. 9
[xiii] Ibid. pp. 9-10
[xiv]Ibid. pp.  9-10
[xv] NASAA Releases Annual Enforcement Report (9.13.2006) [Electronic Format]. Retrieved from: http:nasaa.org/40256/nasaa-releases-annual-enforcement-report-2

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Financial Advisors Expunging Baseless Customer Complaints in State Court

The Internet is awash with articles about “bad brokers” with clean U-4s, and “rouge brokers” obtaining expungements of valid customer complaints.  Indeed, studies have been published ostensibly demonstrating that state regulators poses more valuable information on their system than what appears on FINRA’s public Broker-Check data base.  In sum, there is a consensus that too many complaints are being expunged.  But whether that consensus is based on fact is subject to debate.

Regardless, FINRA has repeatedly responded to the hue and cry by making it increasingly difficult for a financial adviser to obtain an expungement of a customer complaint published on his or her professional record.  But amidst all of this anguish and gnashing of teeth, a politically incorrect truth has been left in the shadows.  I feel compelled to share it with you.  Here it is:  some customer complaints are baseless.  There; I said it.

Another often-overlooked fact is that FA’s are able to go straight to a court of law, rather than a FINRA arbitration, to obtain an expungement.  Almost exactly one year ago, FINRA issued new guidance to its arbitrators raising ever higher the procedural bars for a panel to recommend expungement[1].  Should a FA surmount the procedural hurdles and slim avenues to success, the FA still has to go to court to get the Award confirmed.  And, in that state court action, he or she still needs to name FINRA as a party so that they can show up and oppose the FINRA arbitrator’s recommendation.

But FINRA Rule 2080 actually reads as follows:

2080. Obtaining an Order of Expungement of Customer Dispute Information from the Central Registration Depository (CRD) System
(a) Members or associated persons seeking to expunge information from the CRD system arising from disputes with customers must obtain an order from a court of competent jurisdiction directing such expungement or confirming an arbitration award containing expungement relief.
(b) Members or associated persons petitioning a court for expungement relief or seeking judicial confirmation of an arbitration award containing expungement relief must name FINRA as an additional party and serve FINRA with all appropriate documents unless this requirement is waived pursuant to subparagraph (1) or (2) below.
(1) Upon request, FINRA may waive the obligation to name FINRA as a party if FINRA determines that the expungement relief is based on affirmative judicial or arbitral findings that:
(A) the claim, allegation or information is factually impossible or clearly erroneous;
(B) the registered person was not involved in the alleged investment-related sales practice violation, forgery, theft, misappropriation or conversion of funds; or
(C) the claim, allegation or information is false.
(2) If the expungement relief is based on judicial or arbitral findings other than those described above, FINRA, in its sole discretion and under extraordinary circumstances, also may waive the obligation to name FINRA as a party if it determines that:
(A) the expungement relief and accompanying findings on which it is based are meritorious; and
(B) the expungement would have no material adverse effect on investor protection, the integrity of the CRD system or regulatory requirements.
(c) For purposes of this Rule, the terms "sales practice violation," "investment-related," and "involved" shall have the meanings set forth in the Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer ("Form U4") in effect at the time of issuance of the subject expungement order.

It seems as if very few have read the actual rule.  I recently read an attorney blog that makes no mention of the direct-to-court avenue whatsoever!  Well, our attorneys are very familiar with both the state court and arbitration options and procedures. 
   
There is actually some case law out there on a financial adviser’s right to go to court to seek an expungement.  In Lickiss v. FINRA, 208 Cal.App. 4th 1125 (2012), the California Court of Appeals reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the FA’s petition.  In fact, it held that the trial court abused its discretion by limiting itself to the criteria set forth in Rule 2080(b), rather than employing the court’s broad equitable power and discretion.  The Court of Appeals stated in part:

            FINRA has established BrokerCheck, an online application through which the public may obtain information on the background, business practices and conduct of FINRA member firms and their representatives.   Through BrokerCheck, FINRA releases to the public certain information maintained on the CRD, thereby enabling investors to make informed decisions about individuals and firms with which they may wish to conduct business.   This data includes historic customer complaints and information about investment-related, consumer-initiated litigation or arbitration….

            The issues surrounding Lickiss's sale of CET stock occurred more than 20 years ago, and the one regulatory matter against him resolved 15 years ago in 1997.   Since then, his record has been clear, yet Lickiss attested that he suffers professional and financial hardship relating to the prior sale of CET stock because current and potential clients increasingly use the Internet to obtain his BrokerCheck history.

Lickiss petitioned for expungement of his CRD records, asserting that the superior court had jurisdiction “pursuant to (1) FINRA Rule 2080(a);  [and] (2) the Court's equitable and inherent powers to effectuate expungements.”

FINRA removed the action to federal court.   Upon Lickiss's motion, the federal district court remanded the matter back to the state superior court, ruling that it did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the case because there is no statute, rule or regulation imposing a duty on FINRA to expunge….

Had Lickiss merely petitioned the court for expungement relief under rule 2080, without also invoking the court's equitable powers, that might be the end of the matter.   However, Lickiss explicitly invoked those powers….

Equity aims to do right and accomplish justice.  (Hirshfield v. Schwartz (2001) 91 Cal.App.4th 749, 770.)… 

The equitable powers of a court are not curbed by rigid rules of law, and thus wide play is reserved to the court's conscience in formulating its decrees… 

This basic principle of equity jurisprudence means that in any given context in which the court is prevailed upon to exercise its equitable powers, it should weigh the competing equities bearing on the issue at hand and then grant or deny relief based on the overall balance of these equities…

The choice of a very narrow, rigid legal rule to assess the legal sufficiency of Lickiss's petition—a choice that closed off all avenues to the court's conscience in formulating a decree and disregarded basic principles of equity—was nothing short of an end run around equity…

This is not, as FINRA contends, merely a request for a remedy.   Rule 2080(a) essentially recognizes the right of members and associated persons to seek expungement of information from the CRD system by obtaining an order from a court of competent jurisdiction directing such expungement. 

See also Lickiss v. FINRA, Fed.Sec. L. Rep. P.96, 345 (2011). Compare Updegrove v. Betancourt, 2016 WL 3442762 (2016).
  
If you are a FA who has a U-4 scarred by one or more clearly erroneous customer complaints, we would be happy to evaluate your prospects for success in seeking an expungement in state court or arbitration.  Your chances of erasing an unfair or unfounded complaint in a court of law at a reasonable cost might be better than you think.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A SHOT ACROSS THE BOW OF ROBO-ADVISERS

The Massachusetts Securities Division – one of the most active and sophisticated in the nation – recently issued a Policy Statement “to provide its state-registered investment advisers who establish concurrent or sub-advisory relationships with third-party robo-advisers with guidelines on how to best comply with the Massachusetts Uniform Securities act and meet the fiduciary duties owed to their clients.” That may be the longest sentence I have ever written.

So let’s start with the basics: what is a robo-adviser? Generally speaking, a robo-adviser is an online wealth management service that provides automated algorithm-based portfolio advice. Of course, a traditional adviser may also utilize software based data but they typically employ that data in the context of more personalized advice and wealth management or retirement planning. A few examples of robo-advisers in the marketplace today are Covestor, Market Riders, Asset Builder and Flex Score.

The problem, at least as I see it, is robo-advisers dressed up as fiduciaries. Some, and in particular one ubiquitous SEC registered RIA, actually promotes itself as a premium fiduciary with unparalleled individualized portfolio construction. In my opinion, it is not. Not even close. Unfortunately, the SEC has failed to take action against such cynical charades, but the Massachusetts Securities Division is doing what it can do within its jurisdictional constraints.

According to the new Massachusetts policy, any investment adviser registered pursuant to the Massachusetts Uniform Securities act must:

  • Must clearly identify any third-party robo-advisers with which it contracts; must use phraseology that clearly indicates that the third party is a robo-adviser or otherwise utilizes algorithms or equivalent methods in the course of providing automated portfolio management services; and must detail the services provided by each third-party robo-adivser;
  • If applicable, must inform clients that investment advisory services could be obtained directly from the third-party robo-adviser;
  • Must detail the ways in which it provides value to the client for its fees, in light of the fiduciary duty it owes to the client;
  • Must detail the services that it cannot provide to the client, in light of the fiduciary duty it owes to the client;
  • If applicable, must clarify that the third-party robo-adviser may limit the investment products available to the client (such as exchange-traded funds, for example); and
  • Must use unique, distinguishable, and plain-English language to describe its and the third-party robo-adviser’s services, whether drafted by the state-registered investment adviser or by a compliance consultant.

If you want to review the flesh on these bones, click here. Now, if only the SEC, California, Missouri, Florida and… would follow Lantagne’s lead.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

84 Year Old Takes on Edward Jones for Unauthorized Trading

An elderly St. Louis man has filed a FINRA arbitration claim against Edward Jones and one of its financial advisers. The elderly client alleges that the financial adviser over-rode his objections to liquidating over a thousand shares of Cigna. Those shares were held in the client’s 401(k) before rolling over to an Edward Jones IRA. The financial adviser informed the client that Edward Jones would not permit him to retain such a high concentration of one share in the IRA once the rollover was completed. According to the client, he didn’t give a damn because he had dedicated his life to his employer, which ultimately became Cigna.

As bad luck would have it, the elderly gentleman had a good thing going with his Cigna shares. But the young FA liquidated almost all of them, using the proceeds to purchase favored mediocre-performing mutual funds. The commissions must have been smashing but the retirement account missed out on approximately $900,000 in appreciation in the Cigna shares.

According to the Statement of Claim, which contains allegations that still must be proven, the FA’s murky self-serving account notes do not jive with what the FA admitted to the elderly gentleman’s wife and daughter. Notably, there isn’t a single piece of paper signed or initialed by the client which evidences his consent to the liquidation of his beloved shares. Wouldn’t you think that is something a broker-dealer would want to obtain as a matter of course? Who knows - maybe you can use discretion in a non-discretionary account, as long as you stick a trade confirmation in the mail. But what if you are a broker-dealer that is willing to change trade confirmations after the fact? Food for thought. And once again folks – these are mere allegations until proven to the satisfaction of a Panel.

For more information regarding unauthorized trading, see Douglas Schulz's article "Unauthorized Trading, Time and Price Discretion & the Mismarking of Order Tickets:" http://www.jurispro.com/files/documents/doc-1066206599-article-2051.pdf

Friday, July 8, 2016

Broker-Dealers Using Compliance as a WMD

There seems to be a new trend in town: broker-dealers unleashing compliance or “reputation managers” upon rich-target independent branch operators.  Perhaps it isn’t really that new of a trend.  Indeed, after handling several such matters over the years, I am able to at least describe the modus operandi for these “internal raids”.

First, the broker-dealer’s “business side” identifies a branch with a substantial AUM.  As it stands, the broker-dealer is sharing in a small fraction of the revenue the branch is generating.  Coupled with an external factor, such as a desire to satiate regulators or even a mere personality conflict, executives at the highest level of the organization decide to raid the branch.  But they do it under the pretense of a newly born compliance concern, and they respond to old concerns with an utterly disproportionate sanction – termination without notice.  No Letter of Caution or fine, of course, as this would merely give the target rich financial adviser the opportunity to escape the WMD.

Upon termination the broker-dealer is oddly well prepared to immediately file a devastating U-5, send a highly prejudicial warning/solicitation letter to the adviser’s clients, and/or offer immediate home-office supervision or new OSJ opportunities to all of the branch’s financial advisers.  The impact upon the financial adviser is massive, as he is unable to become registered with a new broker-dealer until a na├»ve state regulator slowly plods through its investigation of the opportunistic and frequently defamatory U-5 disclosure.  The raiding broker-dealer will be slow but “cooperative” in responding to the regulator’s requests for documents.  In terms of private legal counsel, the financial adviser’s source of revenue will dry up at the very moment he or she needs to retain an army of lawyers.  The non-terminated financial advisers will cherry-pick their old boss’ clients.  (They will be ripe for the picking after the nasty letter they received about their now-terminated broker.)  By the time the adviser is registered with a new broker-dealer, his or her book is all but gone.

I have previously written a blog about the causes of action available to a financial adviser who has been raided in such a fashion.  But until FINRA panels start fully compensating the victims of these internal raiding schemes and awarding substantial punitive damage awards – the bombings will continue.  Moreover, state regulators need to issue provisional registration states to such financial advisors while they conduct their investigation.  Food for thought. 

See alsohttp://securitiesandinvestmentblog.blogspot.com/2015/12/how-to-terminate-discredit-and.html