Garden State Securities, Inc. - Traditional and Non-Traditional ETF Suitability Issues - South Florida FINRA Arbitration Attorney:
Garden State Securities, Inc. (CRD #10083, Red Bank, New Jersey) submitted an AWC in which the firm was censured and fined $25,000. Without admitting or denying the findings, the firm consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that it failed to establish, maintain, and enforce a reasonably designed supervisory system and WSPs regarding the sales of leveraged, inverse and inverse-leveraged exchange-traded funds (non-traditional ETFs). The findings stated that the firm did not have WSPs that specifically addressed the suitability or supervision of non-traditional ETFs. In addition, the firm did not have a system that enabled its supervisory personnel to adequately review nontraditional ETF transactions to ensure their suitability. The firm relied on supervisory staff to conduct a manual blotter review to detect potentially unsuitable non-traditional ETF transactions. However, this manual blotter review was an inadequate means of reviewing non-traditional ETF trades. In fact, the firm's blotter did not even differentiate between traditional and non-traditional ETFs. The firm also did not have any exception reports specific to non-traditional ETFs, and failed to implement any system to monitor nontraditional ETF holding periods and losses. The findings also stated that the firm executedshort sale orders in an equity security and failed to properly mark the orders as short.