FINRA Says She's The Cheatin' Kind

November 20, 2014

First: Study. 
Second: Study more. 
Third: Take the test. 
Fourth: Pass the test.  

Four simple steps you need to follow in order to pass Wall Street's various registration examinations. But what would life be without those characters who prefer a short-cut?

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, Suzanne Ellen Meserve submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Suzanne Ellen Meserve, Respondent (AWC  #2014041741801, November 13, 2014).

If At first . . . at second . . . at third

As part of her attempted entry in the brokerage industry, Respondent Meserve filed her initial Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer ("Form U4") on July 25, 2013, through FINRA member firm UBS Financial Services, Inc. Respondent then pulled off a dubious trifecta by failing her Series 7 examination on October 24, 2013, December 30, 2013, and April 30, 2014. 

Getting Centered

Before each examination at a Prometric Test Center, Meserve was purportedly provided with a copy of the FINRA Test Center Rules of Conduct (which she certified as having read, understood, and agreed to). Among various admonitions in those rules, were two that warned test takers that they could not: 
  • receive or attempt to receive any form of assistance during the exam; and 
  • access a locker that had been provided during any breaks. 
SIDE BAR: According to an online FINRA document, the self-regulatory organization imposes the following test center regulations:

Prohibition Against Assistance, the Use of Study Materials or Misconduct
The purpose of this notice is to make sure you understand and acknowledge the FINRA Rules of Conduct. You are required to agree to the following rules before starting your examination or Continuing Education (CE) session.
Test center personnel are NOT authorized to grant exceptions to any of these rules.
Personal Items
For the duration of my examination or CE session, I will not use or attempt to use any personal items, such as:
Mobile Devices or Cameras
Cellular Phones
Handheld Computers
Any Communication or Recording Devices
Personal Notes
Study Materials

I will store all personal items in the locker provided by the test vendor prior to entering the test room. 
I acknowledge that if I bring a personal item into the test room, I will cooperate with the Test Center Staff in the inspection of the item(s). I further acknowledge that these items may not be returned to me.
I will not engage in any conduct that is disruptive, disrespectful or threatening. Further, I will not engage in any conduct that creates a disturbance or interferes with Test Center operations. 
Unscheduled Breaks
I understand and acknowledge that unscheduled breaks are permitted only for restroom use. If I take an unscheduled break during my session, I will not access my locker or leave the building, and I will not receive additional time to complete the examination or CE session. Repeated or lengthy departures from the test room for unscheduled breaks will be reported to FINRA for investigation. 
I will not receive or attempt to receive assistance related to examination or CE content from any person for the duration of my session. 
I will not provide or attempt to provide assistance related to examination or CE content to any other person for the duration of my session.
I acknowledge that examination and CE materials are the property of FINRA and/or the organization(s) that developed the materials. I will maintain the confidentiality of these materials, including the questions and my answers to the questions. 
I will not remove or attempt to remove, whether through physical means, a recording device or otherwise, any written, printed, electronic or recorded materials from the Test Center ("Test Center Material") other than the score report provided by the Test Center Staff. 
I will not electronically capture or attempt to capture any examination or CE content from my computer screen. 
I will not reproduce or attempt to reproduce examination or CE materials through memorization or any other means. This prohibition includes but is not limited to discussing, posting or disclosing such content via email, social media or other Internet presence, or otherwise. I understand that this disclosure prohibition applies before, during and after my session. 
I will not disclose or discuss with anyone, including training instructors, information about the items or answers in my examination or CE session.
Attestation/Candidate Agreement
I am the person I represent to be for this session.  
If I do not follow these rules or I am suspected of cheating or tampering with the score report, the incident will be reported to FINRA and will subject me to possible disciplinary action by FINRA, another self-regulatory organization, the Securities and Exchange Commission, or any other regulator (government or private) that has jurisdiction over my activities and could result in my being barred from employment/association within the financial services industry and forfeiture of my session results.
I understand I will be monitored at all times during the session to ensure that strict adherence to security measures is maintained by all persons. Monitoring may include audio and video recording.

From Locker To Restroom

During her April 30,2014, Series 7 registration examination, the AWC alleges that Respondent Meserve took an unscheduled break during the exam, at which time she purportedly went to her locker and removed her handwritten notes. Armed with those notes, the AWC alleges that Meserve left the confines of the testing center and went to a restroom, where a proctor observed her reviewing the notes. The proctor confiscated the notes. 

To The Curb

The AWC asserts that on May 9,2014, UBS filed Uniform Termination Notice of Securities Industry Registration ("Form U5") at Respondent Meserve was "Discharged" on May 1, 2014 because she "Did not complete licensing requirement."

FINRA asserted that by obtaining access to unauthorized written materials containing information relevant to the content of the examination, Respondent Meserve violated FINRA Rule 2010. In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Respondent Meserve a Bar from association with any FINRA member in any capacity

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