If there is a shortcut through the forest of continuing education, a detour around career qualification exams, or any way in which to avoid and evade the obligation to sit and take a test, someone has tried it. If it worked, we probably don't know about it. If it didn't work, the cheater was likely caught and his or her epic failure is frequently on public display. In a recent regulatory settlement, we have the case of a aspirant to a career on Wall Street who needed just a little more support than the rules required -- sadly, that crutch cracked and the person leaning on it crashed to the ground.
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, Margaret R. Delong submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent ("AWC"), which FINRA accepted. In the Matter of Margaret R. Delong, Respondent (AWC 2015044816401, May 22, 2015).
Delong was dually employed with FINRA member firms Brokertec Americas LLC and ICAP Corporates LLC in May 2014, and, thereafter, she became registered in December 2014 with both firms. The AWC asserts that she had no prior relevant formal disciplinary history with the Securities and Exchange Commission, any state securities regulator, or any self-regulatory organization.
The AWC alleges that during her association with ICAP, on December 2, 2014, Delong took the Series 7 licensing examination. Prior to beginning the examination, Delong affirmed that she had read and would comply with the FINRA Test Center Rules of Conduct. Among the applicable test center rules was a prohibition against the possession of notes, formulas, or any other study materials in the examination room or during a restroom break.
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 MisconductThe 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 ItemsFor the duration of my examination or CE session, I will not use or attempt to use any personal items, such as:Mobile Devices or CamerasCellular PhonesHandheld ComputersAny Communication or Recording DevicesWatchesPersonal NotesStudy MaterialsFormulasI 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.Behavior/ConductI 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 BreaksI 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.AssistanceI 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.ConfidentialityI 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 AgreementI 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.
The AWC asserts that in violation of the test center rules and, accordingly, FINRA Rule 2010, Delong possessed during testing and had access to a study guide related to the subject matter of the licensing examination.
According to FINRA's online BrokerCheck records, on April 15, 2015, Delong voluntarily resigned from ICAP based upon allegations:
FOLLOWING FINRA QUESTIONS ABOUT EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE DURING A LICENSING EXAM, INDIVIDUAL VOLUNTARILY RESIGNED AFTER NOT INITIALLY COMPLYING WITH FIRM POLICY THAT REQUIRED HER TO COOPERATE FULLY WITH A REVIEW.
In accordance with the terms of the AWC, FINRA imposed upon Delong a $5,000 fine and an 18-month suspension from associating with any FlNRA member firm in any and all capacities.