According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Dudley Stephens (Stephens), formerly associated with Coastal Equities, Inc. (Coastal Equities), in September 2018, was sanctioned and barred from the securities industry by FINRA due to failures to provide documents and information requested by the regulator. In addition, Stephens has three customer complaints, one termination, and one additional regulatory complaint.
In July 2018 Stephens was terminated by Coastal Equities on grounds that he was being reviewed over suspicious letters of authorization for third party wires. Thereafter, FINRA barred Stephens.
In December 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that excessive and unauthorized commissions were charged of approximately $50,000 per year for 2.5 years in her advisory account. The client also alleged that $100,000 was invested in an unauthorized private securities transaction was a sham. The claim alleges $250,000 in damages and is currently pending.
The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.
In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.
In cases of selling away the investor is unaware that the advisor’s investments are improper. In many of these cases the investor will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is fired or charged by law enforcement, or stops returning client calls altogether.
Stephens entered the securities industry in 2000. From January 2011 through June 2013 Stephens was associated with HSBC Securities (USA) Inc. From May 2013 until April 2014 Stephens was registered with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC. From April 2014 until October 2016 Stephens was registered with Prospera Financial Services, Inc. Finally, from November 2016 until July 2018 Stephens was associated with Coastal Equities out of the firm’s New York, New York office location.
Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. Investors may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of selling away and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.