According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker James Ham (Ham) has been the subject of at least two customer complaints, one financial matter, three regulatory events, two employment separations, and one judgement/lien. Recently, FINRA barred the broker for failing to cooperate in the agencies investigation into allegations that a customer of Ham’s deposited of approximately $170,000 into Ham’s undisclosed outside business. Such activities are referred to as “selling away” in the industry. The customer complaints against Ham allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments concerning variable annuities among other claims.
Ham entered the securities industry in 1988. From March 2006, until October 2014, Ham was registered with First Independent Financial Services (First Independent). Upon termination from First Independent the firm filed a Uniform Termination form (Form U5) stating that the reason for the firm’s termination of Ham was due to allegations by the firm that Ham executed discretionary transactions in a variable annuity owned by customers without obtain authorization from the customers or the firm to make such trades.
The latest FINRA investigation is not the only action the regulatory took against Ham. In October 2014, Ham entered into another consent order with FINRA concerning the reasons for his termination from First Independent, namely that he made discretionary trades in the variable annuity accounts of his customers without authorization. That consent order resulted in a 60 day suspension and a $5,000 fine. However, it appears FINRA was not paid the fine and the agency brought a second action against Ham. At some point FINRA then began to investigate the outside business activity that ultimately resulted in Ham being ousted from the industry.