Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required







We seek to provide information, insights and direction that may enable the Financial Community to effectively and efficiently operate in a regulatory risk-free environment by curating content from all over the web.


Stay Informed with the latest fanancialish news.




Regulatory Sanctions

Cheating on Firm Element: Stupid is As Stupid Does

February 28, 2019
[Photo: Forrest Gump / Film Distributed by Paramount Pictures]

by Howard Haykin


‘Cheating’ on firm element coursework – i.e., having someone else complete one’s online training module – is probably commonplace. So why are so few violators caught and sanctioned? Stupid is as stupid does!



A Virginia-based broker with MML Investors Services will pay a $2.5K fine, serve a 3-month suspension, and sit for 10 hours of continuing education to settle FINRA charges that he instructed his assistant to complete firm element continuing education coursework on his behalf. The broker also was discharged because of this violation.


WHAT WENT WRONG.    This broker waited until the last moment to fulfill his Firm Element training. With October 27, 2017, as his deadline to complete 4  training modules on the firm's online learning system, it was this broker's bad luck that he was travelling out-of-town to Washington state from October 23, 2017, through at least October 27, 2017.


Nevertheless, on October 25, 2017, someone in Virginia – and not in Washington - utilized the broker’s unique log-in credentials to access and complete the Firm's online training modules. It certainly was not the broker who did so, and MML’s investigation uncovered that it was the broker's assistant who accessed and completed his Continuing Education Program (“CEP”)  requirements. For his violative conduct, the broker was discharged the following month.


NOTE:  According to BrokerCheck, this broker continues to be employed by Mass Mutual and MML Investors Services – though not in a registered capacity.  



FINRA Rule 1250 required member firms to maintain CEPs for their registered persons.' The continuing education required by FINRA Rule 1250 included a "Regulatory Element," which consisted of periodic training on regulatory, compliance, ethical, and supervisory subjects, and a "Firm Element," which required firms to establish formal training programs for "covered registered persons" that addressed securities products offered by the firm. [Rule 1250 was renumbered as FINRA Rule 1240.]
A registered person who directs or allows someone else to complete his or her required continuing education coursework violates FINRA Rule 2010, which requires that registered persons observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.



This case was reported in FINRA Disciplinary Actions for February 2019.

For further details, go to ...  FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online, and refer to Case #2017056514301.