FINRA Fines for ETFs

FINRA Levies Fines for Sales of Leveraged and Inverse Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), An Investment Fraud Attorney Overviews FINRA's Attempt to Crack Down on ETFs

Not unexpectedly, FINRA just levied fines against several major brokerage firms for their misconduct in the sales of leveraged and inverse ETFs.

On May 1, 2012, UBS AG, Citigroup Inc Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo & Co agreed to pay more than $9.1 million for selling inverse and leveraged exchange-traded funds "without reasonable supervision," according to a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) statement as reported by Reuters early this week.

These fines are for sales made in an 18 month time frame (January 2008 – June 2009).

Why is June 2009 Significant?

Because FINRA actually thinks that its dissemination of aNotice to Members in June '09 (reminding those members of their obligations to customers when selling non-traditional ETFs) resulted in brokerage firms immediately fixing any problems they had regarding the sales of those products.

FINRA and other regulators began issuing these kinds of warnings in 2009 about the sale of these investments. FINRA itself was worried that brokers were selling them to customers who were not appropriate for these kinds of investments...those focusing on a conservative investment profile.

In reality, based on investors who have contacted us, we don’t believe that any such “June 2009 bright line” exists. It does not appear that the notice and warnings issued by FINRA were entirely heeded.

It would be nice if that "bright line" did exist, but it doesn’t.


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