Articles Tagged with Broker

In a letter sent to the Financial Industry Regulator Authority (FINRA) last November, the Securities Industry and Financial Market Association (SIFMA) wants FINRA to give harsher punishments to brokers who have failed to pay back promissory notes to firms. It specifically sought to prevent brokers from being able to plead poverty to escape arbitration payment orders. The purpose of the notes is to provide cash for recruiting and retention incentives. They are typically designed as forgivable loans as long as the broker stays at the firm for a specified amount of time. If the brokers choose to leave early, then they are required to pay back the note.

As a result of not paying the promissory note back, firms have gotten more aggressive in filing arbitration claims for repayment, and in most cases the firm wins. In 2011, there were 778 promissory note cases filed which is a decrease from 2010 during which 1,152 cases were filed. If a broker does not pay the promissory award, FINRA files an action against him/her that could lead to suspension. Once a monetary award has been issued in a FINRA arbitration proceeding, the broker has 30 days to pay the award. If the broker can show an inability to pay back the note; however, he/she will not be suspended and can continue to work for another firm.
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It is expected that more brokers will leave their wirehouse firms in the coming year. Numerous independent firms, Schwab Advisor Services, TD Ameritrade Institutional, Pershing Advisor Solutions LLC, Fidelity Institutional Wealth Services and Diamond Consultants LLC, saw an increase in “breakaway brokers” joining them in 2011. As a result of these breakaway brokers, Cerulli Associates Inc. has predicted in a recent report that the wirehouses’ market share of assets will drop from an estimated 43% last year to 35% in 2013.

The report also states that the big firms no longer seem to care as much about the market share they possess but rather seem intent on retaining their top advisers.
This trend in increasing breakaways seems to be a result of brokers who have been waiting for production requirements in earlier recruitment and retention deals to be fulfilled this year. Brokers may also be growing frustrated with increasing compliance demands, as well as with the bureaucracy and managements of their firms. The president of Diamond Consultants LLC, Mindy Diamond, agrees that there will be more breakaways in 2012 and states, “and at the same time, firms in the independent space have come up with a lot of solutions for advisers.”
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According to the 2011 Broker and Advisor Sentiment Index recently published by Fidelity Investments, investment advisers and brokers who moved to an independent firm or who started their own independent firm are more effective than ever in taking their assets with them when they switch firms. The study was conducted in late 2010. Its results showed that 1,046 respondents, including brokers and investment adviser representatives, who recently had moved to an independent reportedly took 70% of their client assets with them. In 2008, the number of total client assets taken was 61%. Moreover, the professionals reported that they voluntarily left part of their book behind.

The respondents gave further insights. More than half of them said that in the current economic climate, they found the independent model more attractive and concluded that it had the highest earning potential of all business models in the near term. Of those brokers and representatives that reportedly anticipate switching firms within the year, 63% said they would move to an independent business model, mainly for better pay. Another key change compared to the 2008 results is that larger number of teams of reps rather than individuals are making the transition to independent firms.

Parker MacIntyre provides legal and compliance services to investment advisers, broker-dealers, registered representatives, hedge funds and issuers of securities, among others. Our regulatory practice group assists financial service providers with the complex issues that arise in the course of their businesses, including compliance with federal and state laws and rules.

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