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First Financial Equity Corp. Investment Advisor Scott Wayne Reed Barred by FINRA After Allegations of Selling Away

Scott Wayne Reed (CRD#: 3007033) was an Financial Advisor at First Financial Equity Corporation and Wells Fargo Advisors in Scottsdale, AZ. He entered the securities industry in 1999 and previously worked for Coastal Equities, Inc.; Accelerated Capital Group; Meridian United Capital, LLC; Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC; and Ameritrade.

According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in February 2021, FINRA sanctioned Scott Wayne Reed, barring him indefinitely in all capacities, beginning February 19, 2021. The FINRA sanction states, “Without admitting or denying the findings, Reed consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings that he participated in private securities transactions totaling at least $3.5 million without providing prior written notice to or obtaining advanced approval from his member firm. The findings stated that Reed solicited individuals, including at least two firm customers, to invest in securities issued by a software and web development company. Reed participated in these investments away from the firm by providing written materials about the company to investors, and by communicating with them orally, by email and text message about the company and encouraging them to invest. Reed also facilitated the transactions by, among other things, helping investors send or receive transfers of funds. Reed received selling compensation of $191,340 from the company for his role in soliciting and facilitating the investments. Reed also personally invested over $200,000 in the company.”

For a copy of the FINRA sanction, click here.

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, Scott Wayne Reed has been the subject of several customer complaints, including the following:

● December 2020 — “Selling away, sale of unregistered securities, fraud, failure to timely amend Form U-4.” A regulatory action initiated by the Arizona Corporation Commission is pending.
● April 2020 — Scot Wayne Reed voluntarily resigned from Wells Fargo Clearning Services, LLC amid “allegations that registered representative recommended and facilitated investment opportunities in investments sold away from and not offered by Wells Fargo Advisors.”
● April 2020 — “Investigation into the Form U-5 disclosure by Wells Fargo indicating there were allegations that registered representative recommended and facilitated investment opportunities in investments sold away from and not offered by Wells Fargo.” The investigation was initiated by FINRA.
● March 2020 — “Client complained that the financial advisor recommended an investment opportunity in a company not offered by Wells Fargo Advisors.” The complaint was closed without action.
● December 2017 — “The customers claim Mr. Reed recommended unsuitable investments and did not diversify their retirement portfolio.” The dispute requests $300,000 in damages and is pending.
● May 2010 — “CUSTOMER ALLEGES THAT THE REGISTERED REPRESENTATIVE MADE A ‘TERRIBLE’ RECOMMENDATION.” The dispute was denied

For a copy of Scott Wayne Reed’s FINRA BrokerCheck, click here.

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.

FINRA has defined the standards in which investment recommendations made by brokerage firms and registered financial advisors are evaluated. The FINRA suitability rule focuses on three fundamental concepts: (1) reasonable basis suitability, (2) quantitative suitability, and (3) customer-specific suitability.

● Reasonable basis suitability requires that a recommended investment or investment strategy be suitable or appropriate for at least some investors. Reasonable basis suitability requires an advisor to conduct adequate due diligence so that he or she can determine the risks and rewards of the investment or investment strategy.
● Quantitative suitability requires a brokerage firm or financial advisor with actual or de facto control over a customer’s account to have a reasonable basis for believing that a series of recommended transactions – even if suitable when viewed in isolation – is not excessive and unsuitable for the customer when taken together in light of the customer’s investment profile. No single test defines excessive activity, but factors such as the turnover rate, the cost-equity ratio, and the use of in-and-out trading in a customer’s account may provide a basis for a finding that a member or associated person has violated the quantitative suitability obligation.
● Customer-specific suitability requires that a member or associated person have a reasonable basis to believe that the recommendation is suitable for a particular customer based on that customer’s investment profile. Among the criteria that a financial advisor must evaluate to satisfy his or her customer-specific suitability obligations include the investor’s age, other investments, financial situation and needs, tax status, and investment objectives. Other considerations include the customer’s time horizon, liquidity needs, risk tolerance, and any other information disclosed by the customer.

Failure by a financial advisor to adhere to these requirements is evidence of negligence or, worse, investment fraud. If you as the investor can establish, at a minimum, negligent misconduct, you may be entitled to recover your 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 mwolper@wolperlawfirm.com.

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