Blog by Bill Singer WEEK IN REVIEW

February 25, 2017

The Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it will not appeal the D.C. Circuit's January 17, 2017, decision in Bartko v. SEC, which vacated as impermissibly retroactive an SEC imposed collateral bar from association with investment advisers, municipal securities dealers, transfer agents, municipal advisors, and nationally recognized statistical ratings organizations.The SEC has posted an online form for applicants seeking to reverse such bars. READ

We only kid ourselves if we think we solve anything by piling fiduciary obligations on brokers who are not investment advisers. Any broker with the inclination, intellect, temperament and moral fiber always to put their clients' interests first would already and willingly assume those fiduciary duties by being or becoming a full-fledged investment adviser without any prodding. We are much better off making sure investors understand what they are doing when they choose to deal with a broker rather than an adviser, and then make them live with the natural consequences of their choice. Then perhaps some modicum of common sense can be restored, at least to this quadrant of the regulatory cosmos. READ

This case is an alert, a warning, a head's up. Log on to your online bank/brokerage/advisory accounts and verify, even if only once a quarter, that what's being sent to you via snail mail is what's showing up on the screen. Also, for godsakes, read your confirms, your monthly statements, and your annual tax documents. Don't leave them sitting around in unopened envelopes. Don't trust your stockbroker, adviser, or your son-in-law to help you figure out what's on the pages. If you can't understand something as basic as a monthly statement, then maybe you need to reconsider how you're investing.

I'm still trying to figure out how the alleged 63-year-old victim never caught on to four years of allegedly ongoing thievery. A simple and likely explanation is that the victimized client never knew about the checks because of the alleged steps Carlson took to cover-up his fraud. Which turns the uncomfortable spotlight back on the firm's compliance staff and makes you wonder how the extended flurry of asset depletion didn't come up on an exception run or fall under some supervisor's scrutiny. READ

Today's Blog covers another expungement case. Frankly, there's not that much to tell: The Claimant advisor is angered by the blot on his record concerning what he feels is a baseless customer complaint. A somewhat refreshing aspect of the case is the candid response by Respondent Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC that essentially amounts to a shrug and a bit of a sheepish grin. The unsettling thing about the outcome, however, is that you feel like you've attended a well-rehearsed but not particularly entertaining play; and, worse, that one of the key actors (the former employer) doesn't particularly want to be on stage and is sort of going through the motions. READ

PERSONAL MESSAGE FROM Blog publisher Bill Singer: "Sharemaster Becomes The Beastmaster Of FINRA And SEC" ( Blog, February 17, 2017) presented the saga of FINRA member firm Sharemaster and its Sole Proprietor Howard Feigenbaum as they battled the ponderous and constipated bureaucracies of both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. Refusing to settle for the sake of settling, refusing to pay a fine for the expediency of feeding the ravenous regulatory beast, refusing to know his place and accept the slaps and indignities that have become the commonplace responses by regulators, Feigenbaum waged a lonely but effective war against Goliath. And while the giant has not yet fallen, he is certainly staggered and bleeding. 

I beg you -- I implore you -- take the time and read about Sharemaster and Feigenbaum's struggle. Also, make sure to watch the fantastic video of Feigenbaum's pro se oral argument on appeal against the Securities and Exchange Commission in federal appeals court. Finally, note the commentary at the end of the article in which Blog highlights the ongoing battle between Johnny Burris, a Wall Street whistleblower who dared to take on JP Morgan and FINRA. 

Bill Singer