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Research Director Sanctioned for Video Promoting Investment Banking
by Howard Haykin
Robert Wasserman agreed to a $10K fine and a 15-day suspension to settle FINRA charges that he participated in the solicitation of investment banking business by appearing in a publicly available video and making statements on the video promoting his member firm’s investment banking business. Wasserman also improperly issued research reports that lacked certain disclosures the FINRA rules required – though we’ll not get into those issues.
BACKGROUND. Wasserman, who resides in Marco Island, FL, entered the securities industry in 1991. He holds the following registrations: General Securities Rep, General Securities Principal, Research Analyst, Research Principal. From 1991 through June 2016, Wasserman was associated with 11 firms – the last 7 years (2009 – 2016) with Dawson James. He worked out of the firm’s headquarters in Boca Raton, FL, serving as Director of Research. Dawson James terminated Wasserman’s association in June 2016 due to downsizing. He’s not currently associated with a broker-dealer.
FINRA FINDINGS. From 2009 through 2016, while serving as Dawson James’ Director of Research, Wasserman provided research analyst coverage on multiple companies in the healthcare and biotechnology industry. Some of the covered companies were also the Firm's investment banking clients. Wasserman drafted most of the Firm's research reports.
Needless to say, as both a registered research analyst and a Director of Research registered as a research principal with the Firm, Wasserman was responsible for ensuring that his conduct and the content of the research reports issued by the Firm complied with the applicable research rules. In particular, NASD Rule 2711(c)(4) - in effect until 12/23/15 – prohibited research analysts from participating in efforts to solicit investment banking business.
In January 2011, Wasserman participated in a publicly available advertising video intended to attract investment banking business. The video was publicly available on an industry website through June 2016. Wasserman appeared in the video, along with the Firm's then CEO and its Senior Managing Director of Investment Banking. Wasserman, who’s identified in the video as the Firm's Director of Research, made statements promoting the Firm and the investment banking services it provides to clients.
e.g., - Wasserman says, “we've been around since the early 2000's. We've been providing investment banking services which can be comprised of advisory service, equity and debt capital raising services and just overall advice about how to be a public company." Wasserman also says, "after we discover the companies and we present them to investors, it's a win-win situation because both the companies benefit and the investors benefit at the same time."
By participating in a video soliciting investment banking business, Wasserman violated NASD Rule 2711(c)(4) and FINRA Rule 2010.
This case was reported in FINRA Disciplinary Actions for June 2017.
For details on this case, go to ... FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online, and refer to Case #2011028377001.