The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned brokerage firm Felt & Company (Felt) alleging that between January 2009, and September 2012, Felt failed to establish and supervisory system that was reasonably designed to ensure that sales leveraged or inverse exchange-traded funds (Non-Traditional ETFs) complied with all applicable securities laws.
Feltl is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has approximately 114 registered representatives operating out of eight branch offices in Minnesota and Illinois. Felt derives revenue from securities commissions, underwriting, and investment company activity and has been a FINRA member since 1975. This most recent FINRA action is not the first time the regulatory has brought an action concerning issues of how Felt sells securities products to investors. As we previously reported, FINRA sanctioned Feltl and imposed a $1,000,000 fine concerning allegations that the firm, between January 2008, and February 2012. failed to comply with the suitability, disclosure, and record-keeping requirements engaging in a penny stock business.
In the most recent disciplinary action, FINRA alleged that the securities laws requires a firm to have a reasonable basis for believing that a product is suitable for any customer before recommending any purchase of that product. In order to meet this requirement, a firm must understand the terms and features of the product including how they are designed to perform, how they achieve that objective, and the impact that market volatility on the product. In the case of Non-Traditional ETFs the use of leverage and the customer’s intended holding period are significant considerations in recommending these products.