The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority and the RBC Wealth Management-acquired Ferris, Baker Watts LLC have agreed to settle charges that the latter engaged in the unsuitable sales of reverse convertibles to elderly clients in the 85 and over group, well as in the inadequate supervision of such notes to retail customers. By agreeing to settle, the investment firm is not agreeing with or denying the allegations.
The alleged misconduct took place prior to RBC acquiring Ferris, Baker Watts. As part of the settlement, the brokerage firm will pay close to $190,000 in restitution to 57 account holders for financial losses related to their purchase of reverse convertibles.
FINRA says that between January 2006 and July 2008, Ferris, Baker Watts allegedly sold reverse convertible notes to about 2,000 retail investors while failing to properly supervise and guide its supervising managers and brokers on how to determine whether their recommendations of the notes were suitable for clients. The investment firm is also accused of not having a system in place that could effectively monitor, detect, and handle possible reverse convertible over-concentrations.
In its release announcing the settlement, FINRA cites one example involving Ferris, Baker Watts selling five reverse convertibles in the amount of $10,000 each to an 86-year-old retired social worker. These notes represented between 15% to 25% of her investment portfolio at different times. FINRA says that for another client, the investment firm sold five notes to a 20-year-old who was making under $25,000 a year. This investment was 51% of the client’s retirement account.
Related Web Resources:
FINRA Orders Ferris, Baker Watts to Pay Nearly $700,000 for Inappropriate Sales of Reverse Convertible Notes, FINRA, October 20, 2010
Finra fines RBC Wealth unit over brokers’ sales of ‘unsuitable’ investments, Investment News, October 20, 2010
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