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NEWSLETTERS & ALERTS
Broker Suspended, NOT BARRED, for Trying to Sell Customer Non-Public Information
Ryan Wallace agreed to pay a $10K fine and serve a 5-month suspension to settle FINRA charges that he took home documents that contained non-public customer personal information causing his member firm to violate Regulation S-P.
BACKGROUND. Wallace, a resident of Gilbert, AZ, entered the securities industry in 2010. From 2013 until May 2015 he worked for Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith. Since leaving Merrill Lynch, Wallace has been working for Wallace Capital Investments, a private real estate finance company headquartered in Boston, MA. It’s uncertain if he is related to Robert Wallace, president of the firm.
FINRA FINDINGS. In May 2015, while apparently winding down his employment with Merrill Lynch, Wallace took home Firm documents that contained "non-public" customer personal information as that term is defined under Regulation S-P. The documents contained a list of the approximately 100 customers in his book of business, and detailed their names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers and the amount of money invested in each customer account. That information was non-public as it was provided to the Firm by customers to obtain financial products and services.
According to CRD records, Wallace left Merrill Lynch as of May 18th and began working in April 2015 for Wallace Capital Investments, a private real estate finance company that is not a registered broker-dealer.
Four months later, on or about September 15, Wallace offered to sell the “stolen documents and non-public personal information to a registered rep at another broker-dealer for $10,000. To entice the RR to make the purchase, Wallace emailed to the RR a one-page Firm document containing nonpublic personal information of 42 of his former Merrill Lynch customer accounts.
FINANCIALISH TAKE AWAYS. It’s commonplace for employees to take non-public customer information when changing jobs. The matter gets ‘sticky’ when that employee tries to use that information to “steal” customers from the originating broker-dealer.
Yet, here we have a unethical individual who actually tries to sell his customer list to others. This should be a one-off situation that should result in one’s expulsion from the industry. Instead, FINRA “merely suspends” this individual for 5 months. What I’m saying is that …
It would be inappropriate for FINRA to say …“it’ll never happen again” when “it never should have happened even once.”
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 #2015047832501.