Sexist Double Standard? Female Sales Assistant Sanctioned By FINRA

October 26, 2012

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, Dawn Gwen Wiley submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Dawn Gwen Wiley, Respondent (AWC 2012030982001, October 22, 2012).

From 2000 until her termination on January 3, 2012, Wiley was associated with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC and its predecessor Wachovia Securities LLC, where she held General Securities Representative (Series 7), Investment Advisor (Series 66), and Futures Managed Funds Representative (Series 31) registrations.  At the time of her termination, Wiley was working as a sales assistant for various financial advisors ("FAs"). The AWC asserts that Wiley had no prior relevant disciplinary history.

The AWC alleges that ten minutes before the market close on December 22, 2011, Wiley took a telephone call from an FA's customer, who wanted to sell prior to the Close certain exchange traded funds ("ETF") shares. Wiley executed the sell order but mistakenly entered the trade for another customer's account.  Upon discovery of the error, Wiley filled out a trade correction form and signed the name of the customer's FA, who was absent from the office.

On December 23, 2011, the FA asked Wiley to reduce the ETF trade's commission.  The AWC alleges that in response to the FA's request, Wiley prepared a second trade correction form, again signing the financial advisor's name to the form.

According to the AWC, the Wells Fargo's policies and procedures prohibit registered associates from signing or affixing the name of any other person to a document; and, as a result, Wiley was deemed to have violated FINRA Rule 2010.  In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Wiley the sanction of a $5,000 fine and a 60-day suspension from association in any capacity with any FINRA member firm.

Bill Singer's Comment

Don't like this case. No how. No way.

First, how nice - we have yet another woman with nearly 12 years of industry experience and three different registrations, and, gee, they got her working as a sales assistant.  Ya ever wonder, you know, just out of pure curiosity, what percentage of women are FAs and what percentage of women are sales assistants to FAs?

Second, okay, yeah, Wiley should not have signed the FAs signature on the trade correction.  Of course, for industry veterans, I doubt that it would likely come as a shock to learn that sales assistants sign their FAs signatures or initials . . . at times.  It's one of those nudge, nudge, wink, wink things that often allow the wheels of Wall Street's brokerage offices and trading desks to move, even if the manual says that it's not the proper lubricant for the purpose.

Third, a $5,000 fine AND a 60-day suspension for this garbage?  Oh for godsakes, really?

Gee, how nice to go to sleep tonight knowing that FINRA is oh so very attentive to the misconduct of the female sales assistants at the bottom of the biz's ladder.  When, might I ask, should we expect the same diligence concerning the shenanigans of the boys in the offices?

Oh, and one last parting shot, just how many dollars did FINRA pay and how many days of suspension did FINRA serve when it submitted doctored records to the Securities and Exchange Commission?  As reported in "The SEC Slams FINRA for Submitting Doctored Record":

The SEC's Order alleged that on August 7, 2008, the Director of FINRA's Kansas City District Office caused the alteration of three records of staff meeting minutes just hours before producing them to the SEC's Chicago Regional Office inspection staff.  The Director's actions rendered the regulatory production inaccurate and incomplete.

. . .

Although one would not expect such gamesmanship between Wall Street regulators, the SEC's Order shockingly states that:

The Director's misconduct is the third instance during an eight year period in which a FINRA employee, or an employee of its predecessor, the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. ("NASD"), provided altered or misleading documents to the Commission. Although FINRA has endeavored to improve its procedures and training since document integrity issues came to light in May 2006 and December 2007, those efforts were not effective in preventing the Director's misconduct.

The Order explains that the genesis of this misconduct began on July 28, 2008, when FINRA's Kansas City District Office received an SEC document request relating to a previously announced inspection of FINRA's Kansas City District Office.  The Kansas City office is responsible for conducting FINRA's regulatory programs in seven states. Among the various items of information sought from FINRA by the SEC:

Item 36 of the document request letter asked for "Minutes of District staff meetings conducted between November 1, 2005 and the present." On August 7, 2008-hours before furnishing the Commission inspection staff with FINRA's response to Item 36-the Director caused the minutes for meetings that took place on August 28, 2006, September 22, 2006 and January 31, 2007 to be altered. Specifically, certain information was deleted or edited, while in other instances, entire passages were removed or changed. With respect to all three altered documents, the original author's signature was changed to the Director's. . .

Clearly, the misconduct of FINRA seems far worse than that of Wiley. How many bucks did FINRA get fined? Zero!  How many days was FINRA suspended? Zippo. What did the SEC do to FINRA?  The federal regulator imposed a Cease And Desist and agreed to accept various undertakings from the self regulator.

And somehow, on some planet, Wiley deserved a $5,000 fine and a 60-day suspension but FINRA gets off with barely a slap.

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