Blog: by Bill Singer Esq WEEK IN REVIEW

February 9, 2019
Wall Street is no longer a quaint road between a church, on one end, and a river, on the other. It is a metaphor for the entire capitalist world. And that world, which we all live in, is populated with minorities and women. Try as Wall Street has for generations to marginalize those two groups, the fact is now inescapable. The securities markets in the United States are in a battle with international markets. If we don't re-tool our industry to include more minorities and women in meaningful roles, we will inevitably lose out to more enlightened competitors. The NYSE may well become a luxury residential condominium. FINRA may well become an off-shore gambling site. I can think of nothing more disgusting than to know that you are capable of doing a job but are denied employment solely based upon conditions of your birth.
Those of us who knew or knew of the Donald in the 80s and 90s formed a dim view of him even back then. Mine hasn't changed much; certainly not for the better. How Sarah Sanders and her evangelical cohorts came to view this classless con-man of a Manhattan dirt peddler as the anointed one of God is a mystery deeper than any I was ever made to ponder in my dozen years in Catholic schools.
You've been there. You sent the customer a gazillion documents with yellow stickies as to where to sign and, sure enough, 99% of the gazillion documents were filled out properly, but a few came back with empty check boxes and missing current dates. Now what? The customer was agitated as it were with having to fill out everything and sign here, sign there, initial, initial here, sign there too, and, also, initial here too. You sure as hell don't want to bother the customer and risk having the whole transaction blow up and the account closed. After all, it's not like you forged any signatures. It's not like "Today's Date" isn't the same one that was properly filled out in numerous other places on the documents. It's not all that big a deal if you enter a check in the "YES, I AGREE" boxes given that the customer initialed assent notwithstanding failed to put a mark in the box. Then there's the supervisor or compliance officer who comes across the somewhat obvious and clumsy efforts of the stockbroker to fill in the blanks. Obvious because the after-the-fact revisions are clearly in different handwriting or there's white-out all over the place. Clumsy because the customer used blue ink and the idiot stockbroker had his assistant use black ink. At this point, some industry folks think it's about customer service and, you know, just do what ya gotta do, and, well, no-harm-no-foul, but, c'mon, keep your mouth shut and don't send any emails about it. At this same point, however, other industry folks recognize all the customer service issues but also realize that there are serious compliance and regulatory concerns that arise. There's customer service. And then there's compliance and regulation, which could lead to fines, suspension, or bars.
In today's featured public customer FINRA Arbitration, the public customer Claimant named 10, count 'em, 10 respondents but after some 6 respondents were removed from the case, well, the case looked like an abandoned car wreck on the side of the road. Most of the useful parts got stripped. No one came to claim it. And so it just sat there and rusted away.
Wells Fargo Clearing Services sued a former associated person for just shy of $300,000 on a promissory note securing a so-called bonus loan. The former rep fought counterclaimed and filed his own separate lawsuit against the firm. At some point, the rep tried to withdraw without prejudice some of his claims, but the FINRA arbitrators nixed the attempt. Then the rep withdrew -- or tried to -- some of his claims with prejudice. Regardless, the case moved forward to verdict. Sometimes it's about the trip. Sometimes its about the destination. Sometimes it's about detours. In today's featured case, Wells Fargo gets to where it wanted to go, even if the route seems a bit off the chart.