FINRA fined and suspended Mark Allen Brewer, a broker with Wells Fargo in Riverside, California, for trying to get around conflict-of-interest rules prohibiting registered representatives from being named as beneficiaries of a customer's estate.
According to the report, Mark Brewer (CRD #2110659) and a Wells Fargo customer whose spouse passed away initially submitted to Wells Fargo a request to designate Brewer as beneficiary of her Wells Fargo accounts, with Brewer requesting a month later that Wells Fargo approve his request to be named beneficiary of the customer's accounts.
Wells Fargo properly denied the request pursuant to FINRA rules that prohibit brokers from acting as beneficiaries for their clients who are not immediate family members, or without prior written approval.
Instead of accepting the rejection, however, Brewer then purportedly instructed his customer to submit applications changing the beneficiary designations to an individual who was a family friend of Brewer, a relationship Brewer did not disclose to Wells Fargo.
Without this disclosure, Wells Fargo approved the beneficiary change request, not knowing the named person's relationship to Brewer.
Upon later learning the truth about the named beneficiary's relationship to Brewer, Wells Fargo removed that person as beneficiary.
Conflict of interest laws and rules exist to discourage situations in which a broker or investment adviser may engage in unethical conduct, such as self-enrichment or other actions that fail to put their client's interests first.
For instance, the SEC recently charged Centaurus Financial with a conflict of interest violation for making unsuitable recommendations to customers that resulted in excessive commissions and fees.
If you have invested with Mark Brewer or any broker or financial adviser who improperly suggested you or an elderly family member designate them as a beneficiary, in contravention to industry rules that prohibit this arrangement, and this relationship subsequently resulted in damages or losses, please call an experienced FINRA arbitration attorney at The Law Offices of Jonathan W. Evans & Associates at (800) 699-1881 for an investigation and consultation.