Finra Dings Indie Broker for Taking Client Info
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority on Tuesday fined and suspended an independent broker in New Jersey for allegedly taking personally identifiable information on his clients when he changed firms.
Panas allegedly uploaded an excel spreadsheet that had addresses, dates of birth, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, annual incomes, net worths and other information to a third party website and to his personal laptop in order to use the information to contact his former clients to join his new firm, Kestra Investment Services, in January last year.
The penalty comes amid a broader regulatory focus on client privacy issues. Summit Equities, which terminated its broker-dealer license with Finra in January this year, was fined $100,000 in December 2018 by Massachusetts securities regulators for failing to properly protect client information.
Massachusetts said Summit failed to properly monitor the client relationship management systems for at least five brokers, including Panas, who was not named but was identified by his registration number, to ensure they were not misusing or taking personal client information.
Panas, who started his career at Cadaret, Grant & Co. in 1992 and works at a practice called Synthesis Wealth Planning, declined to comment. His lawyer, Richard D’ Amura of D’Amura Zaidman in West Hollywood, California, did not return a call for comment.
After Panas left Summit, the firm filed that he was under review for “why client data was placed on a spreadsheet with the name of a competing firm,” according to the Finra letter.
A spokeswoman for Kestra did not immediately return a request for comment.