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FINRA Suspends Broker Named as Client Trustee

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What You Need to Know

  • FINRA has suspended a Waddell & Reed broker for 45 days and fined him $5,000 for circumventing rules at his prior firm, Cetera.
  • The broker was named the successor trustee of a client's living trust and would have received 90% of the trust’s assets upon the client’s death.
  • The broker was also named the sole beneficiary of an annuity held by the same elderly client.

A broker currently registered with Waddell & Reed has been suspended and fined by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority for circumventing the procedures at his prior firm, Cetera Financial Group, according to FINRA.

Without admitting or denying the findings of the regulator’s investigation, Jimmie Darrel Summers signed a FINRA letter of acceptance, waiver and consent on April 13 in which he consented to the imposition of a 45-day suspension and $5,000 fine. FINRA signed the letter on Monday.

Cetera declined to comment on Tuesday. Waddell & Reed, LPL Financial (which is acquiring Waddell’s wealth management unit) and David J. Freniere, a partner at law firm Markun Zusman Freniere & Compton that is representing Summers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Summers was registered as a general securities representative through an association with Cetera Investment Services starting in December 2017, according to FINRA’s BrokerCheck website. He left Cetera in 2020 to join Waddell, where he is still serving as a rep, according to BrokerCheck, which shows he is registered as both a broker and advisor.

Positions of Trust

In March 2019, Summers “circumvented Cetera’s procedures that prohibited registered representatives from being named as a trustee, successor trustee, or executor for a firm customer, or from having power of attorney for a firm customer, except when the customer was a member of the representative’s immediate family,” according to FINRA.

Summers was named the successor trustee for a client’s living trust, named the personal representative of the client’s estate in the customer’s will, and also appointed power of attorney and medical power of attorney for the client, who was not a member of Summers’ family, FINRA alleged.

Summers accepted multiple appointments and designations from the 82-year-old Cetera client, according to FINRA. In March 2019, Summers was named the successor trustee of the customer’s living trust and Summers would have received 90% of the trust’s assets upon the client’s death, FINRA alleged.

In that same month, Summers was named the personal representative of the client’s estate in the senior citizen’s will, according to FINRA. Although Summers was also appointed power of attorney and medical power of attorney for the client, the broker never acted as power of attorney or medical power of attorney for the client, FINRA said.

In June 2019, “Summers again circumvented Cetera’s procedures when he was named the sole beneficiary of an annuity held by the customer, which Cetera’s procedures also prohibited,” according to FINRA. The value of the annuity was not specified by FINRA.

Summers did not disclose any of these designations or appointments to Cetera, according to FINRA, which added he no longer holds any of the appointments or designations for the client.

As a result of his actions, Summers violated FINRA Rule 2010 governing standards of commercial honor and principles of trade, FINRA said.

In October, FINRA enacted a rule prohibiting brokers from acting as beneficiaries for clients without their firms’ permission.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)