The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) entered into an agreement whereby the regulatory fined Broker Dealer Financial Services Corp. (BDFS) concerning allegations that between March 2009 and April 2012, BDFS failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system, including written procedures, that was reasonably designed to ensure that the firm’s sales of leveraged or inverse exchange-traded funds (Non-Traditional ETFs) complied with the securities laws.
BDFS is a FINRA member firm since 1979 and headquartered in West Des Moines, Iowa. The firm employs about 270 registered representatives located in more than 130 branch offices throughout the country.
According to FINRA, from March 2009 to April 2012, BDFS failed to implement a supervisory system, including written procedures, reasonably designed to ensure the suitability of Non-Traditional ETF sales. For instance, FINRA issued guidance that specifically dealt with issues related to the sales and supervision of Non-Traditional ETFs. FINRA’s guidance 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. Part of having a reasonable basis for making the recommendation includes understanding the terms and features of the Non-Traditional ETFs being offered including how they are designed to perform, how they achieve that objective, and the impact that market volatility, the ETF’s use of leverage, and the customer’s intended holding period.