As the BrokeAndBroker.com Blog has covered in the past and apparently will continue to cover into the future, we got another registered rep who figures that customer service includes saving his customers the time and inconvenience of actually signing on the dotted line. In this digital age, you'd sort of think that those taking the old signature short-cut would scan a customer's signature and affix it onto a PDF document. On the other hand, as evidenced in today's featured FINRA regulatory settlement, some folks are old-school and on this throwback Thursday, we got an old-fashioned bit of cut-and-paste and an even more prehistoric tracing! Which makes me wonder when someone will pull out a sheet of carbon paper or, who knows, maybe send me something via fax.
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, Matthew Alan Morris submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Matthew Alan Morris, Respondent(AWC 2017053810301, July 10, 2018).
The AWC asserts that Morris entered the industry in 1983, and by 2014 he was registered with FINRA member firm SunTrust Investment Services, Inc. The AWC asserts that "Morris has no prior disciplinary history in the securities industry."
Cut, Paste or Trace
The AWC alleges that in violation of FINRA Rule 2010, during the relevant period between about 2015 and 2017, Morris:
altered over 70 forms by cutting-and-pasting or tracing the signatures of 16 customers on forms such as brokerage account/Individual Retirement Account applications; life insurance/annuity replacement forms; annuity beneficiary designations, and fund transfer authorization forms. Although the underlying transactions were all authorized, none of the customers were aware, nor authorized Morris to cut-and-paste or trace their signatures onto the forms in question.
Books and Records
As a result of Morris' alleged falsification of customer signatures on the annuities forms, FINRA further deemed that in violation of FINRA Rules 4511 and 2010, Morris had caused SunTrust to create and maintain inaccurate books in records. Further, FINRA found that in 2015 and 2016, Morris falsely certified on two SunTrust compliance
attestations that he would refrain from signing a customer's name of any
Online FINRA BrokerCheck records as of July 12, 2018, disclose that SunTrust "discharged" Morris on March 23, 2017, based upon allegations of:
FALSIFICATION OF CLIENT SIGNATURES ON FIRM DOCUMENTS
In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Morris a $5,000 fine and a three-month suspension from association with any FINRA member in any