According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) advisor Peter Butler (Butler), in January 2017, was terminated by his firm Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) over claims by the firm that Butler “resigned while on suspension pending termination for violation of company policy related to selling away and disclosure of an outside activity.” In addition to the termination Butler has been subject to one regulatory action and four customer complaints.
The regulatory action by FINRA found that Butler failed to reasonably supervise a broker who was employed as a sales associate and office manager. FINRA found that Butler failed to detect and prevent the office manager from converting money from a business organization belonging to Butler. FINRA determined that the office manager used this control to convert funds from the business in order to pay himself an additional salary and unauthorized commissions, as well as to otherwise take money to which he was not entitled. In addition, funds were converted from firm customers who were also his family members and domestic partner by depositing those funds into the business’ bank account, from which he continued to make unauthorized withdrawals.
At this time it is unknown the extent and nature of the private securities transactions that formed the basis of the employment separation. FINRA requires brokers to disclose their outside businesses because the risk to investors is that the broker will use such businesses to engage in unauthorized securities activities. 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.
Wyman entered the securities industry in 1989. From March 2010 until February 2017 Butler was associated with Ameriprise out of the firm’s Cambridge, Ohio office location.
Investors who have suffered losses 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.