Stephens, Inc. submitted a letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) in which it was censured and fined $900,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to adequately supervise the content and dissemination of “flash” emails, along with the securities trading in connection with the content of these emails.
According to FINRA, Stephens, Inc., based out of Little Rock Arkansas, created the “flash” emails in order to supplement its published research with frequent communications between research analysts and sales and trading employees. These emails were allegedly meant to provide a means of sharing publicly available information, such as press releases and earnings calls, with the firm’s sales personnel who would then share the publicly available information to interested clients. However, FINRA found that from at least August 2013 through January 2016, Stephens, Inc. failed to properly supervise the content and dissemination of these flash emails, thereby creating the risk that they could potentially contain nonpublic information that could be misused by sales and trading staff. Continue Reading