The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced in January 2017 that it resolved a regulatory action against Dougherty & Company LLC, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We believe that this action exposed supervisory problems within Dougherty and may entitle investors of certain investments recovery for investment losses. Please call 1-866-817-0201 for a free consultation with an attorney
Dougherty entered into a settlement agreement with FINRA regulators, where Dougherty did not did not admit or deny fault, but agreed to a censure, a fine of $140,000, and required to pay $78,910 in restitution to a customer. The action stems from the allegation that for more than four years, Dougherty did not adequately supervise a securities broker who initiated hundreds of trades for elderly customers without contacting them, thus lacking appropriate authorization, and unsuitably recommended dozens of transactions to those customers. Unsuitable recommendations are investment recommendations that were of higher risk than the investor agreed to assume.
The settlement agreement contained certain findings of fact, and those findings stated that Dougherty assigned the primary responsibility for supervising broker trading activity to a supervisor who was also responsible for supervising numerous other brokers and handling his own customers’ accounts. The supervisor’s supervision of the broker in question was not subject to adequate firm oversight or specific direction. Instead, Dougherty inappropriately relied on the supervisor’s discretion and judgment, which the supervisor did not exercise appropriately.
The findings also stated that the firm did not have supervisory tools that were reasonably designed to detect financial adviser or broker misconduct. FINRA stated that while the supervisor received daily trade blotters and certain monthly exception reports, data generated by a brokerage firm that identifies the investments recommended by a broker and warns of potentially inappropriate investment recommendations, the firm did not provide exception reports addressing short-term trading or margin usage by the financial adviser to the supervisor.
Additionally, the firm’s exception reports designed to identify inappropriate recommendations to elderly customers excluded accounts in the name of a trust, regardless of the age of the settlor or trustee. Such shortcomings are important because the broker’s trading activity in two of the accounts at issue did not appear on those exception reports because of the existence of a trust.
The findings also included that the firm failed to respond appropriately to warning signs about the broker’s business, such as a dramatic increase in his commissions without a commensurate change in the number of accounts that he handled or the type of products that he sold. In sum, the firm’s system of supervision was not reasonably designed under the circumstances to prevent violations of securities laws and rules, including rules governing trading without customers’ approval and unsuitable recommendations.
The full AWC can be found at the following link.
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