Ami Forte Leaves Her New Post as Finra Turns Up Heat
(Updates last paragraph to indicate that Finra has barred Forte’s former branch manager from acting as a principal at a member firm, not from working in the securities industry.)
Ami Forte has left Pinnacle Investments, the independent broker-dealer that the former Morgan Stanley advisor joined in March after her ouster from the wirehouse.
Forte, who opened a Tampa, Fla., outpost for Syracuse, N.Y.-based Pinnacle, left the firm on October 17, according to her BrokerCheck record. Her departure came two weeks after the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sent her a Wells Notice saying it is likely to charge her with potential rule violations beyond those it outlined in a notice it sent her in January.
Forte’s alliance with Pinnacle garnered headlines in light of the controversy she sparked at her former firm. An arbitration panel in 2016 ordered Morgan Stanley, Forte and her branch manager to pay $34.4 million to the widow and estate of Home Shopping Network co-founder Roy Speer, a client who had a romantic relationship with Speer.
Morgan Stanley and Forte, who was a top-producing advisor for many years, are engaged in an arbitration battle in which the firm seeks to have her pay a portion of the award as well as a balance of $2.3 million it claims she owes it on forgivable loans. She has counterclaimed for about $1.9 million of deferred compensation that the firm allegedly held on to after firing her.
Robert Pearl, a lawyer representing Forte, said that her resignation was voluntary and that Pinnacle agreed to rehire her once regulatory matters are resolved.
“We’re in a holding pattern,” he said. “But I couldn’t make it clearer from our standpoint that she’s done nothing wrong.”
Pinnacle Chief Executive Ryan York did not return a call for comment, and Forte could not be reached.
Finra‘s January Wells notice said it expected to charge Forte with rule violations related to “manipulative and deceptive practices” and to violations of Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board rules.
Finra in June barred Terry McCoy, Forte’s former branch manager, from acting as a principal at a member firm, citing supervisory failures that included failure to respond to “multiple red flags” of elder abuse in the accounts of Speer. Forte has said that Finra’s disciplinary action notice against her boss unfairly suggests she was involved in trading improprieties.