In the securities brokerage industry, "selling-away" refers to the prohibited practice of an Associated Person effecting or soliciting the sale of securities or investment products not held or approved with whom the broker is affiliated without prior written consent. FINRA regulators have seen a steady flow of selling-away cases over the years involving registered representatives who are being targeted by issuers, promoters and marketing agents to sell their nontraditional investment products to their retail customers. In many instances, promoters of these products are marketing them as non-securities products that do not have to be sold through a broker-dealer by a registered person. In a significant number of cases, associated persons have sold these investments to their customers away from the broker-dealer and without firm approval as required by FINRA Rule 3270. Selling-away often occurs in an independent branch or a satellite office, where Associated Persons are removed from the day-to-day oversight and supervision of their brokerage firm's compliance department.
I receive phone calls throughout the year from attorneys who have taken on their first FINRA case and they frequently are unaware how the FINRA Dispute Resolution process differs from other venues. I thought it would be helpful to provide a quick overview for new participants and a refresher for those more experienced securities attorneys on how the FINRA Arbitration and Mediation process works.
In FINRA-related cases many attorneys see discovery requests objected to by opposing counsel. Typically, opposing counsel objects to discovery requests citing that items requested are either "overly broad, vague, or ambiguous", or "impermissible per FINRA's Code of Arbitration Procedure". However, despite opposing counsel's reasoning, many objections to discovery requests are irrelevant and do not hold up in regard to FINRA's Code of Arbitration Procedure. Attorneys should not be intimidated or discouraged by these objections, but rather should understand that FINRA's guidelines concerning arbitration allow for most applicable and reasonably obtainable discovery information to be delivered.