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Regulatory Sanctions

Fidelity FinOp was Flipped for Fudging Expense Report

October 30, 2017

by Howard Haykin


Fidelity can be a stickler for formality. But apparently not everyone at the firm operates by the book. Take, for example, this employee - in finance and operations, no less - who tried to “stick it to the firm.” And he did so for nearly 2 years.


Robert Travis agreed to a $5K fine and a 6-month suspension to settle FINRA charges that he submitted false expense reports to his member firm for meals.


BACKGROUND.    Travis, a resident of Boston, MA, had 7 years’ experience with 4 Fidelity firms. Prior to joining Fidelity Investments in 2009, this licensed CPA spent 9 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Travis obtained his Series 27 license in 2014, and he served as a FinOps Principal and an Operations Professional with Fidelity Brokerage Services from April 2014 through July 2016, when he was U5’d for the reasons noted in this case. Travis did not have prior relevant disciplinary history. According to his profile on LinkedIn, Travis presently serves as corporate controller at Gordon Brothers, a financial services firm.


FINRA FINDINGS.    From June 2014 through January 2016, Travis submitted false expense reports to Fidelity for meals that, collectively, cost approximately $700. More particularly, Travis submitted expense reports that falsely claimed that Travis attended meals with certain employees in Fidelity's Accounting Department when, in fact, Travis had attended the meals with another employee at the Firm.


FINANCIALISH TAKE AWAYS.    Due to FINRA’s sparse details in this case, we're unable to determine how Mr. Travis was caught by Fidelity or how he managed to get away with his ruse for the better part of 2 years. Perhaps Mr. Travis was, for a time, self-approving his own expense report submissions.  


In any case, it’s always disappointing to read the cautionary tale of someone who would jeopardize a career over a measly $700 in fudged expense report charges. Maybe it was Travis’ “penny pinching” mindset as a CPA that made him do it. Or perhaps he was building up for 'bigger paydays' when he was caught. [For the record, I too worked at Fidelity and hold a CPA license. However, that’s where our similarities end.] 


This case was reported in FINRA Disciplinary Actions for September 2017.

For details on this case, go to ...  FINRA Disciplinary Actions Online, and refer to Case #2016050632401.