HSBC Securities has agreed to pay $375,000 to settle Financial Industry Regulatory Authority charges that it recommended the unsuitable sale of inverse floating rate collateralized mortgage obligation to retail clients. The SRO is also accusing the investment bank HSBC of inadequate supervision of the suitability of the CMO sales and failure to fully explain the risks involved in CMO investments to clients. The investment bank has already reimbursed clients $320,000.
Per FINRA, six HSBC brokers made 43 unsuitable inverse floater sales to “unsophisticated” retail clients. Even though HSBC requires that a supervisor approve all retail clients sales larger than $100,000, 25 of the sales were larger than this amount. 5 resulted in $320,000 in losses for clients. According to FINRA executive vice-president and acting enforcement chief James S. Shorris, the clients’ financial losses could have been prevented.
FINRA contends that HSBC brokers were not given enough training and guidance about the risks involved with CMOs. They also were not specifically told that inverse floaters were only suitable for investors with high-risk profiles.
FINRA also says that HSBC was not in incompliance with a rule requiring brokerage firms to offer specific educational collateral prior to a CMO sale to anyone that is not an institutional investor. FINRA says that not only did HSBC’s registered representatives not know that they were required to offer this material, but also the brochures that were offered did not meet content standards regarding required educational information.
By agreeing to settle, HSBC is not admitting or denying the allegations.
Related Web Resources:
FINRA Fines HSBC $375,000, On Wall Street, August 19, 2010
FINRA fines HSBC for unsuitable sales of CMOs, Banking Business Review, August 20, 2010
Collateralized mortgage obligation, SEC
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