Blog by Bill Singer WEEK IN REVIEW

June 6, 2015

A recent FINRA regulatory settlement seems to have gotten it right. A member firm had the capacity to review correspondence but came up short. In the end, the self-regulatory organization imposed a fair sanction. What veteran lawyer Bill Singer sees in this case, however, is an important opportunity to highlight the hidden costs of compliance. READ

In the end, FINRA didn't like the way a member firm supervised its sales of leveraged- and inverse-Exchange Traded Funds; and, the regulator dragged up that old standby "suitability" charge. What could have been another droll bit of regulation, however, winds up opening your eyes and making your jaw drop when you read through some of the examples of ETF investments cited by FINRA. All in all, an excellent bit of regulation with some helpful warnings to both the industry and unwary investors. READ

You feed your credit/debit card into a machine and it gets chewed up -- and you're left without a card or the money that you need. Or you are over-billed or double-billed for something and when you call to complain, they tell you that you have to first pay the disputed amount and then file a claim. Frankly, there are so many variations on the theme of how banks, brokerage firms, financial institutions of all shades, and other companies screw with us when it comes to charging for goods and services that I can't even begin to touch the depth and breadth of the many examples of such practices. Which leads us to that moment when the tables are turned . . . when the computer makes an error in your favor . . . when the dollars that were picked from your pockets over the years suddenly flow back.  Consider the case of the registered representative whose commissions dramatically increased as a result of a computer glitch. READ

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In this age of growing concerns about cyber-security, firms focus on protecting their computer systems from hackers who try to find a way over, under, around, or through various firewalls. What often gets loss in such intense focus are the more mundane, inadvertent, human follies and foibles that expose an organization's confidential data. A recent FINRA regulatory settlement involving a trip to the bathroom and a forgotten laptop perfectly illustrates this challenge.READ