Investment Bankers and Expense Reimbursement Issues

This week, we’ve received a few phone calls from investment bankers at two different wirehouse firms. It seems that these firms are reviewing compliance with various company benefits, such as an after-hours car service for rides home from the office, and with overtime or after-hours meals, where bankers can get reimbursed for a meal / dinner expense if they stay and work past a certain hour in the evening.

There are some reports that one investment bank has fired several bankers over alleged misuse of these types of benefits, and has placed others on administrative leave as they continue to investigate the matter. If this sounds familiar to you, and you’re under review over your use of your firm’s benefit programs, here’s some information that you need to know:

If you’ve been interviewed by management, human resources or corporate security, but not yet separated from the company or have been told that you are being separated but a U5 has not yet been filed, you may want to be proactive and get legal counsel involved. It may be smart to seek to be permitted to resign. It may also make sense to explore whether it would be appropriate to go ahead and repay any disputed reimbursement amounts at issue and seek to have that fact noted on your Form U5. If you find yourself in this situation, seek legal help now. Legal counsel can often communicate with the firm and review and comment on the U5 language that will be filed, and work to make that as favorable as possible for you, while still allowing the firm to fulfill its reporting responsibilities.

If a Form U5 is filed that reports your separation from the company and reports that you were separated amid allegations of misconduct in connection with reimbursement of expenses, expect to receive a letter from FINRA seeking information and documents. If you don’t already have legal counsel representing you when that letter comes, it’s certainly time to speak with an experienced lawyer and get help. In my view, representing yourself before FINRA is generally not a good idea.

If you’re facing a regulatory inquiry from FINRA, I invite you to contact us and request a copy of my new book, The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Regulatory Investigations. If you’ve just received a FINRA Rule 8210 letter or are expecting to get one as a result of issues relating to your participation in the reimbursement program, I’ll be glad to send you a copy in the mail, free of charge, while supplies last. Just give us a call or request it by clicking the button below and we can get it right out to you. We’ll need your name and mailing address to get this out to you.

Understand that a regulatory action can have a significant effect on your career. So, get the guidance you need, and work to protect your reputation and your career.

If you’d like to speak about your situation, I invite you to contact us at 678-344-5342. We regularly work with financial advisors across the country in U5 and FINRA matters.

Want to read more? Check out this prior post – What to do if terminated by a broker-dealer.