This week the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which oversees brokers fined Milwaukee based brokerage firm Robert W. Baird & Co. $150,000 and censured the firm for failing to disclose a conflict of interest arising from the interview where there was substantial likelihood that a reasonable investor would have considered the conflict important to his or her investment decision. In a consent decree, Baird neither admitted nor denied the charges.
Here’s the story: Six years ago, the CEO of a company being followed by a research analyst at Robert W. Baird, a broker, asked the professional if he or she would like to come in for a job interview with the company’s chief and its chief financial officer. The interview came off favorably.
The meeting escalated into a conflict of interest that drew the attention of FINRA when the CEO told senior Baird management about the interview; that the chances were good it could lead to the analyst jumping ship for the company he or she was writing on and asked Baird if the firm had any objections. When the analyst told management at his brokerage about the interview, he was told he could still write about the company he was interviewing at and following, but try to avoid learning about any material, non-public information.
Between the time the CEO told Baird about the job interview and the analyst declined a job offer from the firm, he wrote seven research reports on the company. In none of the reports were the employment discussions between the analyst and the company disclosed.
This is not the first time Baird has run afoul of its main regulator for violating securities rules and regulations. The firm has been fined for a slew of violations over the years including getting whacked for reverse churning and failing to provide breakpoints to investors. The firm’s brokers have been hit for transgressions like borrowing money from firm clients and making unsuitable investment recommendations to its customers. According to its CRD, the firm has been the subject of at least 34 FINRA arbitration claims by customers and 36 regulatory investigations. Last year, the firm got hit with a $17.8 million FINRA arbitration award for violating multiple rules in the securities industry. Stoltmann Law Offices has filed over 20 FINRA arbitration actions against the firm in the past.
If you’ve lost money with Robert W. Baird, please do not hesitate to contact our Chicago based law firm to learn more about how to sue the firm and recover investment losses.