When I first started on the Street around 1982, there was this thing called "windowpaning." That lovely description referred to the practice of holding up an original signature under a blank piece of paper and placing both sheets against a windowpane -- the point being that the sunlight would fully illuminate both pages and you could trace a great forged signature. Fast forward three decades and we now have electronic signatures, which you can't hold up against a windowpane. Not to worry, though. Seems like necessity is a mother . . . Ah yes, progress moves on and innovation steps in!
Case In Point
For the purpose of proposing a settlement of rule violations alleged by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority ("FINRA"), without admitting or denying the findings, prior to a regulatory hearing, and without an adjudication of any issue, Grisel Saez submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Grisel Saez, Respondent (AWC 2012034811001, August 13, 2014).
In 2001, Saez entered the securities industry and in 2009 was registered with TD Ameritrade LLC.
During the relevant period between May 1, 2012 and July 10, 2012 Saez's responsibilities included helping customers open brokerage accounts. The AWC asserts that during the relevant period, Saez electronically signed account opening agreements for three customers without their knowledge or consent. Among the customer affirmations set forth on the electronic signature page for those agreements were a mandatory arbitration agreement, an understanding that certain investments are not FDIC guaranteed, and an authorization to use account information for certain consumer/credit reporting purposes. In the boxes on the agreements requiring affirmation via the insertion of a check mark, Saez entered those indications without the knowledge or consent of the customer.
According to online FINRA records, on October 18, 2012, TD Ameritrade, Inc. "Discharged" Saez based upon allegations that:
FINRA alleged that by entering the false electronic signatures, Saez violated FINRA Rule 2010, and caused her firm's books and records to be inaccurate in violation of FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010. In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Saez a $5,000 fine and a three-month suspension in all capacities.