Articles Posted in ETFs

Jay Dee Jordan, a former registered representative with WFG Investments, Inc. submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) in which he was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for recommending and executing hundreds of unsuitable non-traditional exchange traded fund (ETF) purchases in his customers’ accounts.  FINRA found that Mr. Jordan’s unsuitable recommendations and ETF purchases resulted in his clients’ accounts sustaining realized and unrealized losses of more than $8.4 million.

FINRA found that Jay Dee Jordan, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, recommended that his clients purchase over $22 million in non-traditional ETFs. Of the 84 accounts in which Mr. Jordan recommended the  non-traditional ETFs, 79 of these accounts held ETF positions for longer than thirty days, and on numerous occasions, the ETF positions were held for years.  According to FINRA, Mr. Jordan routinely failed to sell these complex products on the same day he purchased them and did not have a reasonable basis to believe that his long-term buy-and-hold recommendations were suitable for his customers.  Continue Reading

FSC Securities Corporation has been censured and fined $100,000 and ordered to pay restitution to affected customers of over $492,485.33 for failing to supervise the unsuitable sales of leveraged, inverse and inverse-leveraged exchange-traded funds (non-traditional ETFs).

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) found that FSC Securities, which is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, failed to establish and maintain an adequate supervisory system to ensure the suitability of its sales of non-traditional ETFs.  According to FINRA, FSC Securities executed approximately 6,500 purchases of the non-traditional ETFs, which were worth approximately $92 million and generated roughly $603,000 in commissions.   Continue Reading

Daniel Hushek, a Registered Principal with G.F. Investment Services, LLC, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) in which he was fined and suspended by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to adequately supervise the unsuitable exchange traded fund (ETF) recommendations and transactions of a registered representative under his supervision.  As a result, the representative’s recommendations and trades caused losses of more than $2.4 million in customers’ accounts.

According to FINRA, Daniel Joseph Hushek III, of Bradenton, Florida, failed to adequately supervise or respond to red flags in connection with a registered representative of his member firm who recommended and engaged in unsuitable trading in 44 customer accounts (belonging to 41 customers).  FINRA found that from March 2011 through July 2015, the registered representative under Mr. Hushek’s supervision recommended his customers invest almost exclusively in and hold for lengthy time periods non-traditional ETFs, despite the “enormous risks” associated with holding these complex products. FINRA stated that as a result of this employee’s misconduct, customers incurred realized and unrealized losses of over $2.4 million. Continue Reading

Edward McFarlane, a registered representative formerly employed with Oppenheimer & Co. Oppenheimer), submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC), in which he consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he recommended and effected unsuitable ETF recommendations in his customer’s account, resulting in losses to his customer of approximately $48,524.79.

Edward Thomas McFarlane, of Glenside, Pennsylvania, allegedly recommended and effected approximately 169 transactions involving inverse, leveraged, and inverse-leveraged exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  FINRA found that Mr. McFarlane recommended that the non-traditional ETFs be held in his customer’s account for as long as 470 days, with an average holding time of 40 days.  The ETFs recommended by Mr. McFarlane were intended to be short-term trading vehicles and not meant to be long-term investments.  Continue Reading

Richard William Lunn Martin, a former registered representative with GF Investment Services, LLC, submitted an Offer of Settlement in which he was barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) due to findings that he made unsuitable ETF hold recommendations which resulted in losses to his customers of approximately $2.4 million.

Richard William Lunn Martin, of Johor, Malaysia, allegedly solicited, purchased and recommended his customers hold non-traditional ETFs in their accounts for years – an unsuitable recommendation for any customer.  Non-traditional ETFs are typically designed to achieve their objectives over the course of one trading session, i.e., one day.  In fact, FINRA Regulatory Notice 09-31 advises broker dealers and their registered representatives that non-traditional ETFs “are typically not suitable for retail investors who plan to hold them for more than one trading session, particularly in volatile markets.”  Continue Reading

John Amador Blakezuniga, a former registered representative with Vanguard Capital, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC), in which he consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he made unsuitable ETF recommendations in 85 of his customers’ accounts.

John Amador Blakezuniga, of Gurabo, Puerto Rico (a/k/a John Anthony Blake and John A Zuniga), allegedly recommended approximately 1,280 transactions in inverse and inverse-leveraged ETFs.  Mr. Blakezuniga recommended that the non-traditional ETFs be held in his customers’ accounts for periods ranging from 30 days to several years, despite the warning in the prospectuses that “investment results for a single day only, not for longer periods.”  The ETFs allegedly recommended by Blakezuniga were intended to be short-term trading vehicles and were not meant to be long-term investments.  Continue Reading

Phillip Hinze, of Mendota Heights, Minnesota, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) in which he was fined and suspended for placing unauthorized trades in a customer’s account in a one week time span without the customer’s authorization.

FINRA investigators found that while registered with Oak Ridge Financial Services Group, Inc., Mr. Hinze placed an order to buy 100 shares of an exchange-traded fund (ETF) for $11,175.  Seven days later, Mr. Hinze placed orders to buy 260 shares of two other ETFs and 210 shares of another ETF, for a total of $40,482.  The customer had not authorized any of the transactions and quickly complained to the member firm, who cancelled the trades and terminated Mr. Hinze’s employment. Continue Reading

1st Discount Brokerage, Inc., of Lake Worth, Florida, submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to supervise the sales of non-traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  1st Discount Brokerage was subject to similar FINRA disciplinary actions in 2012 and 2015 for the firm’s failure to supervise a registered representative who operated a Ponzi scheme and for failure to supervise its compliance with Section 5 of the Securities Act of 1933, respectively.

Registered with FINRA since 1995, 1st Discount Brokerage currently has approximately 27 registered representatives and 20 branch offices.  FINRA found that 1st Discount Brokerage failed to establish, maintain, and enforce a supervisory system regarding non-traditional ETFs.  Further, FINRA found that 1st Discount Brokerage failed to provide its registered representatives with adequate training and guidance on suitability considerations for these complex, speculative investment products.  Continue Reading

Robert Batchen, a broker formerly employed with the Skokie, Illinois branch of Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC (Wells Fargo), submitted a letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent in which he consented to, but did not admit to or deny, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) findings that he made unsuitable discretionary trades in his customer’s accounts, causing losses in excess of $56,000.

FINRA found that Robert James Batchen, of Wheeling, Illinois, exercised discretion in his customer’s accounts without the written authorization of the customer of his member firm, in violation of NASD Rule 2510(b).  Mr. Batchen is alleged by FINRA to have effected more than 900 discretionary trades during the relevant time period.  Continue Reading

Scottsdale, Arizona-based First Financial Equity Corporation (First Financial) and the firm’s Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Melissa Ann Strouse, were named in a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) complaint alleging that the firm failed to establish and maintain a proper supervisory system with respect to the appropriateness of fee-based accounts and the monitoring of accounts for potential churning and excessive trading.  Melissa Strouse was named in FINRA’s complaint amidst allegations that as the firm’s CCO, she was responsible for ensuring the firm’s compliance with supervisory procedures.

According to the FINRA complaint, First Financial Equity had inadequate written supervisory procedures (WSPs) with respect to the appropriateness of fee-based accounts for the firm’s customers and had no system in place to address situations where excessive fees may have been charged.  Further, the Complaint alleges that First Financial failed to maintain and enforce a supervisory system related to its options business and that the firm allegedly had no WSPs for the supervision, approval and sale of exchange-traded funds (ETFs).  For her part, the Complaint alleges that Melissa Strouse failed to ensure that the WSPs covered all required areas and were amended as needed. Continue Reading