On April 27, 2015, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) published a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC), whereby Larry M. Phillips of The Phillips Group, in Woodland Hills, California, was sanctioned for his misconduct related to Phillips’ unlawful overcharging of several of his customers.
In December 2009, Phillips became registered as a general securities representative through Purshe Kaplan Sterling Investments (“PKS”). From January 2010 through August 2010, while registered with PKS, Phillips overcharged several customers by charging both markups and investment advisory fees. First, Phillips purchased securities, including Steepener CDs, Floating Rate Notes, Principal Protected Notes, and Municipal Securities for several of his investment advisory clients. Next, Phillips allocated the marked-up products to those same clients’ investment advisory accounts. In doing so, Phillips charged advisory fees on the very same securities for which he had already charged a markup. FINRA found that by assessing both markups and investment advisory fees, Phillips’ was in violation of FINRA Rule 2010 and MSRB G-17.
As a consequence of Phillips’ misconduct, FINRA fined Phillips $7,500, suspended him from the securities industry for 45 days, and ordered him to pay over $3,000 in restitution to the customers that he took advantage of. This is not the first time that Phillips has been sanctioned. For example, in April 2005, Phillips executed an AWC with NASD, where he agreed to a ten-day suspension and $20,000 fine for failing to adequately disclose material facts regarding investment products and strategies in written communications that he disseminated. Then again, in October 2006, Phillips was sanctioned—this time by the State of Illinois based on these same improper communications discovered by the NASD. Illinois sanctioned Phillips by prohibiting from serving as a principal in Illinois for a period of two years in addition to requiring him to pay a $1,000 fine.