Former Waddell & Reed and Merrill Lynch Stockbroker Fined and Suspended for Misconduct

FINRA has fined Maryland financial adviser and investment counselor Jill Meredith Carr $10,000 and suspended her for two years from the securities industry. According to the letter of acceptance, waiver and consent (“AWC”) submitted by Ms. Carr, she entered the securities industry in 2007 with Merrill Lynch until her termination for “failure to meet performance standards” in 2008. She then worked for Waddell & Reed, Inc until her termination in July 2012 when she was terminated for forging customer signatures. Brokers and investment advisers the forge customer signatures constitute a form of securities fraud.

According to the AWC, from December 2011 through June 2012, Carr forged signatures of at least 15 Waddell & Reed customers on at least 24 forms. Carr also altered information on other account forms after the forms were signed by the customers. Specifically, in connection with firm-required suitability updates, Carr forged the signatures of at least six customers on at least 12 update forms without their knowledge, consent, or authorization. In addition, she forged at least five additional signatures, allegedly as an accommodation to those customers. By forging the signatures, FINRA found that Carr violated FINRA Rule 2010. Finra Rule 2010 states that “A member, in the conduct of its business, shall observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade.”

Pursuant to FINRA Rules, brokerage firms rely on customers’ stated objectives and profiles to determine whether the investment objectives and the broker recommendations are consistent. It is important that investors and their brokers fully understand these objectives. It is imperative that these objectives be properly stated. Here, FINRA’s fine and suspension reflects the importance of these documents.