FINRA Suspends William Bailey, Former NEXT Financial Broker, for Two Years for Improper Trading in Customer Accounts and Other Violations
WASHINGTON —The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced today that it has suspended William Bailey, a former NEXT Financial Group, Inc. broker of Mesa, Arizona, from the securities industry for two years for unsuitable and excessive trading of mutual funds and variable annuities. Bailey also engaged in discretionary trading without receiving prior written approval from his customers.
FINRA found that between January 2006 and December 2007, Bailey recommended 484 short-term mutual fund switch transactions in seven customer accounts. In each of the accounts, Bailey, on his customers' behalf, repeatedly sold mutual funds less than one year after purchasing them, and purchased new mutual funds with the proceeds. With Bailey's frequent switches, on average, his customers held their mutual funds for only 60 days. The seven customers, who ranged in age from 66 to 93 and were all unsophisticated investors, incurred over $147,000 in sales charges and trading fees. Bailey received over $120,000 in commissions from these sales. To facilitate his mutual fund trading scheme, Bailey frequently traded in his customers' accounts without first obtaining their permission and improperly completed customer account forms to make it appear the customers approved of the trading.
FINRA also found that Bailey convinced three customers to switch their variable annuities for new ones after holding them for a short period of time. These exchanges were unsuitable based on the customers financial objectives and needs, and did not improve the customers' financial situations.
Brad Bennett, FINRA Executive Vice President and Chief of Enforcement, said, "Brokers who engage in excessive trading will be held accountable. In this case, Mr. Bailey rapidly switched his elderly and unsophisticated customers in and out of mutual funds with high costs, providing a benefit to Bailey instead of to his customers."
In settling this matter, Bailey neither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to the entry of FINRA's findings.
FINRA's investigation was conducted by Peter Schlossman, Kelsey Goodman, Daina Tums and Lane Thurgood, under the supervision of Susan Light, Enforcement Chief Counsel.
Investors can obtain more information about, and the disciplinary record of, any FINRA-registered broker or brokerage firm by using FINRA's BrokerCheck. FINRA makes BrokerCheck available at no charge. In 2010, members of the public used this service to conduct 17.2 million reviews of broker or firm records. Investors can access BrokerCheck at www.finra.org/brokercheck or by calling (800) 289-9999. Investors may find copies of this disciplinary action as well as other disciplinary documents in FINRA's Disciplinary Actions Online database.
FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is the largest independent regulator for all securities firms doing business in the United States. FINRA is dedicated to investor protection and market integrity through effective and efficient regulation and complementary compliance and technology-based services. FINRA touches virtually every aspect of the securities business - from registering and educating all industry participants to examining securities firms, writing rules, enforcing those rules and the federal securities laws, informing and educating the investing public, providing trade reporting and other industry utilities, and administering the largest dispute resolution forum for investors and firms. For more information, please visit www.finra.org.