Blog by Bill Singer Esq WEEK IN REVIEW

September 12, 2020
We got cousins. Second cousins. Once removed. Frankly, don't ask me because I never quite got that second cousin thing or all the removals. Making matter more complicated, one of the cousins is a stockbroker and the other cousin has some accounts with the second cousin once removed. There are powers of attorney. There are beneficiary designations. There are loans. Then the customer cousin dies and, as such, may still be a second cousin but becomes fully removed. Then the brokerage firm becomes unhappy. Then FINRA investigates.
Another day, another registered representative gets jammed up over alleged misconduct during the exiting of a former firm and the onboarding to the new one. As is often the case, FINRA saw the inappropriate transmission of customers' nonpublic personal information. And FINRA saw a violation of Regulation S-P. And FINRA saw a violation of its Rule 2010. And FINRA imposed a fine and sent the rep to the penalty box.
FINRA seems to think that a "relevant" is a gray pachyderm with a long trunk and two large, floppy ears. Dumbo is such a cute character, no? What's not cute is the troubling double standard of FINRA when it comes to disclosing the prior relevant disciplinary histories of its large member firms. For some reason, that disclosure poses a particular challenge for FINRA. Smaller firms and the industry's men and women have their dirty laundry washed in public for all to see; however, when it comes to the big boys, well, FINRA seems to throw the large babies out with the bathwater.
You got your obvious and you got your obvious. I mean, you know, there are some things in life where it just goes without saying. Take, for example, the case of a convicted felon who was sentenced to over three years in federal prison and ordered to pay over $1 million in assorted fines, disgorgement, interest, and costs for his role in conspiring to commit securities fraud. Without over-thinking it too much, you wouldn't likely argue against barring such a fellow from Wall Street, right? Well, go figure, the SEC is wrestling with that very issue. Our publisher Bill Singer is torn by the dilemma of not quite understanding why there's any hesitation but (because Bill's an attorney) also understanding why the federal regulator is striving for consistency with its decisions. None of which comforts Bill when it comes to why Whistleblower cases are languishing at the SEC without timely payment but, hey, bureaucrats got their priorities.