Former First Financial Equity Corp. Broker, Stephen Whittaker, Terminated For Allegedly Selling Away
Stephen Whittaker was a Financial Advisor at First Financial Equity Corp. in Surprise, AZ. Stephen Whittaker has been in the securities industry since 2003 and previously worked at Morgan Stanley.
According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Stephen Whittaker was terminated by First Financial Equity Corp. in April 2019 for “undisclosed outside business activities—tax planning including for clients of the firm.” This practice is known as selling away.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) strictly prohibits financial advisors from “selling away” or selling securities and investments to clients that are not offered by the brokerage firm with which they are employed. For example, it is illegal and a violation of industry rules for a financial advisor to recommend or even suggest that a client invest in the financial advisor’s own business or a business operated by his or her friends or family. It is not necessary that the financial advisor earn any compensation for recommending an outside investment.
The purpose behind this prohibition is to ensure that a financial advisor only offers to sell securities that have been vetted by his or her employer brokerage firm through a rigorous due diligence process. Most brokerage firms have an approved list of investments, products, and research that can be provided or made available to clients. Any deviation by the financial advisor from the approved product list may constitute selling away.
In addition, Stephen Whittaker has been the subject of two customer complaints during his career. In April 2019, a customer alleged “unauthorized trading and suitability,” alleging damages of $35,000. That matter remains pending. In 2013, a second customer alleged that “she was not told of potential tax liability when liquidating an annuity and not redepositing within 60 days.”
For a copy of Stephen Whittaker’s CRD, click https://brokercheck.finra.org/individual/summary/831764#disclosuresSection
Financial advisors have a legal and regulatory obligation to recommend only suitable investments that are appropriate for their clients’ needs and objectives. Their employing brokerage firm has a legal and regulatory obligation to supervise the Financial Advisors’ sales practices and dealings with clients. To the extent any of these duties are breached, the customer may be entitled to a recovery of his or her investment losses.
The Wolper Law Firm represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration on a contingency fee basis. Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, is a trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities. Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters. We can be reached at 800.931.8452 or by email at email@example.com.