Published on:

FINRA Bars Former Vanderbilt Securities Broker in Connection with Allegations of Churning Elderly Investor’s Account

money whirlpoolFinancial advisor Mark Kaplan (CRD# 1978048), who was most recently affiliated with Vanderbilt Securities, LLC (CRD# 5953, hereinafter “Vanderbilt”), has voluntarily consented to a bar from the securities industry pursuant to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver & Consent (“AWC”) signed off on by FINRA Enforcement on March 7, 2018.  Without admitting or denying any wrongdoing, Mr. Kaplan consented to the industry bar following FINRA’s investigation and findings concerning allegations of unsuitable and excessive trading in an elderly retail investor’s brokerage account.

According to FINRA records, beginning in 1989, Mr. Kaplan began working as a registered representative for Lehman Brothers.  Subsequently, he worked at CIBC Oppenheimer Corp., Morgan Stanley DW Inc., Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley.  During the course of his nearly thirty-year career, he has been involved in seven customer disputes, each of which concluded with a settlement.

With regard to the AWC, FINRA Enforcement alleged that “Between March 2011 and March 2015 [Mr. Kaplan] engaged in churning and unsuitable excessive trading in the brokerage account of a senior investor” and thus “[v]iolated FINRA Rules 2020, and 2111, NASD Rule 2310… and FINRA Rule 2010.”  FINRA’s findings centered on Mr. Kaplan’s customer, identified in the AWC by the initials ‘BP’, as “[a] 93-year-old retired clothing salesman” who opened several accounts at Vanderbilt with Mr. Kaplan during March 2011.

After BP opened his accounts at Vanderbilt, FINRA Enforcement further alleged that over the ensuing months and years, Mr. Kaplan “exercised de facto control over BP’s accounts” and that the elderly investor “[r]elied on Kaplan to direct investment decisions” while simultaneously “[e]xperiencing a decline in his mental health.”  FINRA has further alleged that during this March 2011-2015 time frame, Mr. Kaplan “[e]ffected more than 3,500 transactions” in BP’s accounts, which “[r]esulted in approximately $723,000 in trading losses and generated $735,000 in commissions and markups for Kaplan and [Vanderbilt].”

Excessive trading, or churning, occurs where: (i) a registered representative exercises control over a customer’s account; and (ii) the level of activity in that account is inconsistent with the customer’s investment objectives, financial situation, and needs.  Excessive trading constitutes a violation of FINRA’s suitability standards set forth under FINRA Rule 2111.

Brokerage firms like Vanderbilt have a duty to ensure that their registered representatives are adequately supervised.  Brokerage firms must also take reasonable steps to ensure that their financial advisors follow all applicable securities rules and regulations, in addition to internal policies and procedures.  In instances when brokerage firms fail to adequately supervise their registered representatives, they may be held liable for losses sustained by investors.

At Law Office of Christopher J. Gray, P.C., our securities attorneys have significant experience representing investors in cases involving excessive trading or churning, and related broker misconduct.  Investors may contact a securities arbitration attorney by telephone at (866) 966-9598, or by e-mail at newcases@investorlawyers.net for a no-cost, confidential consultation.