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FINRA Suspends a Top Advisor for Cheating on CE Coursework

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has suspended former Merrill Lynch advisor Bruce K. Lee for 18 months after he had others complete his required continuing education programs.

Lee, who now leads Chicago-based Keebeck Wealth Management via an RIA partnership with Dynasty Financial, was fired by Merrill in April 2018 for “personal conduct inconsistent with firm standards and failure to personally complete mandatory firm compliance training, resulting in a loss of management’s confidence,” according to the FINRA agreement. 

Lee agreed to pay a $15,000 fine as part of the arrangement, the details of which were posted online Wednesday by the regulator.   

The former broker managed about $2.4 billion in assets when Merrill asked him to leave. 

“Bruce Lee is no longer affiliated with a FINRA organization. His FINRA license expires in six months. This has no impact on his business,” Dynasty said in a statement.

CE Cheating

Lee had two staff members finish continuing education training programs for him between June 2014 and March 2018, which violates FINRA Rule 2010. 

“As a registered representative, Lee was required to personally complete his assigned firm element CE modules and other assigned training throughout the year by certain deadlines set by the firm,” according to FINRA.

For 29 general CE modules, the ex-broker had two staff members — a financial analyst and a client associate — do the coursework. The subject matter included product and sales practices, financial-crime compliance, the Labor Department, fair credit reporting, unlawful internet gambling and other topics.

Lee also asked his staff to complete 14 CE modules specifically required by Merrill Lynch. These focused on the firm’s code of conduct, market-linked investments, risk, business continuity and information protection. 

He is not the only financial professional to draw media attention for this behavior. 

In 2008, Joseph Gruber was forced to resign as president of FSC Securities and Advantage Capital, then part of the AIG broker-dealer network (now called Advisor Group) after FINRA charged him with allowing a subordinate to take his 2007 CE proficiency tests.

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