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NEWSLETTERS & ALERTS
Discretion or Indiscretion in Executing Discretionary Transactions
by Howard Haykin
Given the brokers' impressive backgrounds, I wondered aloud:
- What prompted them to engage in any form of violative conduct after being fully compliant for so many years?
- Was the risk to their careers worthwhile – particularly since one broker was discharged for his violative conduct and has yet to join up with another broker-dealer?
Let’s check back after the following case analyses.
BROKER ONE (RBC CAPITAL MARKETS). In June 2018, Broker One placed 61 trades in 29 customer accounts – only 11 months after joining RBC from Oppenheimer & Co. where he had been for 24 years. Shortly thereafter, RBC discovered the transactions and discharged him for ‘Violation of the Firm’s order execution policy’.
Prior to his one year at RBC Capital Markets, this broker had spent 45 years with 4 other firms, during which time he had no disciplinary disclosures. Broker One agreed to pay a $5K fine and serve a 15-day suspension. [FINRA AWC #2018060156201]
BROKER TWO (UBS FINANCIAL SERVICES). From June 2010 through November 2017, Broker Two effected approximately 400 discretionary transactions in 13 accounts belonging to 11 customers – based in part on the customers’ express or implied authority to exercise discretion in their accounts.
Prior to joining UBS in 2002 as a General Securities Rep, General Securities Principal, General Securities Sales Supervisor, Municipal Securities Principal, and Registered Options Principal, Broker Two had spent 30 years with 4 other firms. He remains registered with UBS as a General Securities Rep. Broker Two agreed to pay a $5K fine and serve a 15-day suspension. [FINRA AWC #201805792780]
BROKER THREE (UBS FINANCIAL SERVICES). From February 2016 through June 2017, Broker Three exercised at least 27 trades on 14 separate dates in 2 accounts belonging to customers.
Broker Three has spent his entire 15-year financial services career with UBS Financial Services and remains registered with that Firm. Broker Three agreed to pay a $5K fine and serve a 10-day suspension. [FINRA AWC #2017055847401]
FINANCIALISH TAKE AWAYS. Addressing my open questions, one can't surmise what the brokers were thnking when they engaged in violative conduct - other than by interviewing them or requesting FINRA Enforcement to provide for more in-depth commentary in their case write-ups. That said, it's likely, if not probable, that all 3 brokers had executed unauthorized discretionary transactions some time before the relevant period cited by FINRA - the brokers just weren't caught.
What I'd like to see is FINRA 'giving some slack' to brokers who have clean disciplinary records - by issuing, for example, "Letters of Caution" rather than AWC's - so long as the brokers' actions involved 'victimless' conduct, and/or did not create or place undue risk on customers of the firm.
These cases were reported in FINRA Disciplinary Actions for May 2019.
For further details, click on the respective FINRA AWC #.