WhatsApp Messages Trip Up Florida Broker
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority sent a message to brokers this week about the need to avoid being seduced by social media.
Falcon, a broker affiliated with Aegis Capital Corp., sent 894 WhatsApp business-related messages to the overseas customers over 17 months from 2017 to 2019 even though the message system was not approved by the firm, according to the agreement letter.
He sent the messages after acknowledging on his annual personal activity questionnaire that he had used the prohibited app and subsequently confirming that he would use only firm-issued and approved devices going forward. His acknowledgment also included an agreement to avoid text messaging, which Aegis prohibited.
He primarily used his personal cell phone, but occasionally sent messages through a desktop computer at the firm, the Finra consent letter said.
His activities put Aegis at risk of violating Finra Rule 4511 that requires member firms to preserve books and records, including electronic communications, for three years, according to the consent letter. Falcon thus violated Rule 4511 and the far-reaching Rule 2010 that requires members to observe high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade. (Violations of the books-and-record rule are by definition Rule 2010 violations, the consent letter noted.)
Falcon agreed to the sanctions without admitting or denying the findings, as is typical of most of Finra’s consent agreements.
Falcon has been registered as a broker for 23 years, working at seven different firms before affiliating with Aegis in July 2013, according to his BrokerCheck history. He has six customer complaints on his record, one of which was closed without action, one of which is pending and four that were settled.