Strike 3: Fired by Merrill, Dissed by RayJay….Barred Forever by Finra
(Updated with details of Ingros’ work and personal history.)
After taking it on the chin for failing to clean the industry of rogue brokers, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has permanently barred a broker who in the last 27 months was fired by Merrill Lynch and “permitted to resign” as an independent broker by Raymond James Financial.
Jeffrey Ingros received the ban after failing to testify before an enforcement panel investigating allegations that he accepted loans from customers without informing Raymond James and failed to disclose outside business activities, according to a settlement posted on Finra’s enforcement database late Friday.
Ingros had joined RayJay’s independent channel in November 2013, the same month that he had been discharged by Merrill for allegedly advising clients on assets held outside the firm. He also traded without clients’ prior permission in non-discretionary accounts and recommended investments that were not covered by Merrill research, according to his BrokerCheck record.
In total, the database lists 12 past or ongoing disclosure events over Ingros’ 25-year career, three of which were customer complaints that were denied.
The settlement with Finra “speaks for itself” and the allegations in the settlement document are “rather innocuous” and not related to client harm, David Gehn, a New York City-based lawyer for Ingros, said in an interview.
Ingros consented to the Finra bar without admitting or denying the allegations in the underlying complaint.
Among ongoing complaints on Ingros’ BrokerCheck record is one from October 2015 seeking $1.7 million for allegedly unsuitable investments and unauthorized trading. Another alleges that he borrowed money from a Merrill customer from May 2007 to October 2013.
Ingros worked for almost 10 years at Janney Montgomery Scott before his six-and-a-half year stay at Merrill. He is a Boy Scout troop leader in Beaver, PA, according to his LinkedIn profile.
A spokeswoman for Raymond James did not return a request for comment on Ingros’ affiliation with the firm or its agreement to permit him to resign.
A recent academic paper on the prevalence of rogue brokers in the financial services industry found that 44% of brokers who are fired affiliate with another firm within a year. Raymond James Financial, UBS Financial Services and Wells Fargo Advisors ranked among firms with the highest percentage of brokers who have been disciplined for misconduct, according to the paper, which has been cited in congressional hearings.
At a hearing earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized Finra CEO Richard Ketchum over the high rate of recidivism among brokers with checkered pasts, excoriating him for studying the issue but failing to bar them.
“We do when they violate the rule,” Ketchum responded. We bar hundreds.”