Investors are Not Raymond James Financial Customers for FINRA Arbitration Purposes, Rules 4th Circuit

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed that, for purposes of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority arbitration, investors who lost the investment they made on stock they purchased from a lawyer connected to a Raymond James Financial Services (RJF) Inc. broker are not the brokerage firm’s client. The appeals court said that the investors dealings with the broker-dealer were “too remote.”

Tax lawyer David Affeldt had been recruited by an Inofin Inc. executive to recommend to investors that they buy securities from the company. That employee happened to be the college roommate of then-Morgan Stanley (MS) representative Kevin Keough, who also informally acted in a sales capacity for Inofin.

Because of his employment with the financial firm at the time, Keough had Inofin pay his compensation for the referrals to his wife instead of to him. He and Affeldt, however, agreed to equally share these referral fees-an agreement that continued even after Keough went to work with Raymond James.

In 2011, the investors filed a FINRA claim against that Raymond James, which then proceeded to file this case-Raymond James Financial Services Inc. v. Smith-in a bid for declaratory and injunctive relief. The broker-dealer noted that per Rule 12200, the claimants seeking financial recovery had never been its customers.

A district court granted the brokerage firm’s motion and the investors went on to appeal, claiming that Affeldt had been linked to Keough, who worked for Raymond James. They believed that if the rule were to be interpreted broadly, they would be considered the firm’s clients. The Fourth Circuit, however, disagreed.

Raymond James Financial Services Inc. v. Smith (PDF)

Code of Arbitration Procedure, FINRA

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