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CFP Board Censures Improper CFP® Certificant Conduct

Apr 15, 2003
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. today announced public disciplinary actions against the following individuals' rights to use the CFP® certification marks, effective immediately.

STATE NAME LOCATION DISCIPLINE
California Peter M. Landay Los Angeles Suspension
Fred A. Schluep Red Bluff/San Mateo Revocation
Richard J. Shanks San Diego Letter of Admonition
Florida Kenneth A. Friedman Jacksonville Suspension
Michael C. Gainer Jacksonville Beach Suspension
Robert N. Gest Jr. Lighthouse Point Revocation
Mark P. Koestner Naples Revocation
Ramona V. MacKinnon Naples/Tallahassee Revocation
Russell Bruce Simmons Tampa Letter of Admonition
Indiana Deborah E. Romary Fort Wayne Letter of Admonition
North Carolina Leon E. Abbas Cary Suspension
New Jersey Michael J. Spillert Parsippany Letter of Admonition
New York Harry W. Linindoll III East Greenbush Letter of Admonition
South Dakota Robert P. Steib Sioux Falls Letter of Admonition
Tennessee Ralph T. Grubb Johnson City Suspension
Texas Thomas M. Couch Jr. Houston Suspension
  Jay C. Miles Brenham/Chappel Hill Revocation
  John Howard Towers Plano Suspension

Public disciplinary actions taken by CFP Board, in order of decreasing severity, include permanent revocation, suspension and letters of admonition.

Under terms of the revocations, Gest, Koestner, MacKinnon, Miles and Schluep no longer have the right to use the CFP® certification marks. CFP Board suspended the right of Abbas, Couch, Friedman, Gainer, Grubb and Landay to use the CFP® certification marks for a period of time. CFP Board issued Linindoll, Romary, Shanks, Simmons, Spillert and Steib letters of admonition.

These disciplinary actions were taken by the Board of Professional Review, a board of CFP® certificants that interprets and applies CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility and Financial Planning Practice Standards as well as investigates, deliberates and takes appropriate action with respect to alleged violations of the Code of Ethics or Practice Standards by CFP® certificants. The basis for each decision can be found in the attached report. Consumers can check on a planner's disciplinary history and certification status with CFP Board at www.CFP.net/search.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc., a professional regulatory organization, fosters professional standards in personal financial planning so that the public values, has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame logo). These marks are awarded to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. CFP Board currently authorizes more than 41,500 individuals to use these marks in the United States. For more about CFP Board, visit www.CFP.net.


DISCIPLINARY ACTION REPORT
April 2003

REVOCATION OF RIGHT TO USE THE CFP CERTIFICATION MARKS

CFP Board has revoked the right of the following individuals to use the marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER(tm) and federally registered CFP (with flame logo) as a result of their unethical, improper or illegal professional or personal conduct. Cases have been listed by state.

CALIFORNIA

Fred A. Schluep (Red Bluff and San Mateo): In November 2002, CFP Board permanently revoked Mr. Schluep's right to use the CFP marks after he failed to respond to CFP Board's July 2002 complaint investigating two grievances filed with CFP Board alleging that Mr. Schluep dispersed funds from a client account without the client's knowledge or approval, and that Mr. Schluep fraudulently signed wire authorizations. The complaint also investigated the revocation of Mr. Schluep's Investment Adviser Registration by a State Department of Corporations. Due to Mr. Schluep's failure to respond to CFP Board's complaint, the allegations in the complaint were deemed admitted and an order of revocation was issued.

FLORIDA

Robert N. Gest Jr. (Lighthouse Point): In November 2002, CFP Board permanently revoked Mr. Gest's right to use the CFP marks after he failed to respond to CFP Board's October 2002 complaint investigating a National Association of Securities Dealers Inc. arbitration alleging that Mr. Gest engaged in fraud and negligence, and nine customer complaints, which included allegations of unsuitable and unauthorized transactions, all filed during a period of less than two years. The complaint also alleged that Mr. Gest failed to disclose the NASD arbitration to CFP Board as required. Due to Mr. Gest's failure to respond to CFP Board's complaint, the allegations in the complaint were deemed admitted and an order of revocation was issued.

Mark P. Koestner (Naples): In November 2002, CFP Board permanently revoked Mr. Koestner's right to use the CFP marks after he failed to respond adequately to CFP Board's July 2002 complaint investigating two NASD arbitrations generally alleging misrepresentation and unsuitability with regard to investments he recommended and sold. Additionally, Mr. Koestner failed to disclose the arbitrations to CFP Board on the appropriate renewal forms. Due to Mr. Koestner's failure to respond to the CFP Board complaint in writing, the allegations in the complaint were deemed admitted and an order of revocation was issued.

Ramona V. MacKinnon (Naples/Tallahassee): In January 2003, CFP Board permanently revoked Ms. MacKinnon's right to use the CFP marks after she failed to respond to CFP Board's August 2002 complaint investigating her arrest and charges of forgery, grand theft, exploitation of the elderly and forgery of her state's financial adviser's registration in order to handle clients' money. CFP Board also discovered Ms. MacKinnon's involvement in several NASD arbitrations and a customer complaint in which the claimants generally alleged unauthorized trading, unsuitability and churning. Due to Ms. MacKinnon's failure to respond to CFP Board's complaint, the allegations in the complaint were deemed admitted and an order of revocation was issued.

TEXAS

Jay C. Miles (Brenham and Chappell Hill): In November 2002, CFP Board permanently revoked Mr. Miles' right to use the CFP marks after he failed to respond to CFP Board's August 2002 complaint investigating a customer complaint alleging that Mr. Miles sold a client unsuitable investments and failed to follow the client's standing instruction that her investments remain in money market positions. The complaint also alleged that Mr. Miles failed to disclose a misdemeanor criminal conviction to CFP Board as required. Due to Mr. Miles' failure to respond to CFP Board's complaint, the allegations in the complaint were deemed admitted and an order of revocation was issued.

SUSPENSIONS

CALIFORNIA

Peter M. Landay (Los Angeles): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Landay's right to use the CFP marks for two years following its investigation of an NASD arbitration generally alleging misrepresentation, breach of contract, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, unsuitability and selling away relating to two promissory note investments Mr. Landay recommended and sold, resulting in an award of more than $190,000. Additionally, the NASD initiated an investigation into Mr. Landay's activities, and he subsequently entered into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent (AWC). Pursuant to the AWC, Mr. Landay consented to a finding that he participated in selling away with regard to approximately $2.6 million of investments in private securities he sold his clients, and agreed to a one-year suspension and $146,800 fine.

FLORIDA

Kenneth A. Friedman (Jacksonville): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Friedman's right to use the CFP marks for six months after it discovered Mr. Friedman was the subject of a customer complaint filed with his broker/dealer and entered into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent with the NASD regarding his signing of his client's IRA brokerage account application and two mutual fund custodial transfer forms without authorization. After investigation and performing an internal audit of his files, his broker/dealer issued him a letter of reprimand. CFP Board found that Mr. Friedman consented to an NASD finding that, without authorization, he signed his client's name on several forms; consented to a 10-day suspension and a $5,000 fine; received a letter of reprimand from his broker/dealer for signing his client's name on the forms; and failed to notify CFP Board of his professional suspension within 10 days as required.

Michael C. Gainer (Jacksonville Beach): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Gainer's right to use the CFP marks for two years after it discovered that Mr. Gainer entered into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent with the NASD and entered into a stipulation and consent agreement with his state regarding the sale of certain promissory notes to clients. CFP Board found that Mr. Gainer failed to properly notify or receive authority from his broker/dealer to sell the promissory notes; was terminated by his broker/dealer for selling away; consented to NASD findings that he participated in selling away; consented to an eight-month suspension and disgorgement of $22,000 in commissions; consented to state findings that he sold unregistered securities and sold away; agreed not to apply for licensure or registration in any capacity to sell securities in that state for 10 years; and agreed to pay a $13,000 fine. CFP Board further found Mr. Gainer falsely attested on a CFP Board renewal form and failed to notify CFP Board of his professional suspension as required.

NORTH CAROLINA

Leon E. Abbas (Cary): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Abbas' right to use the CFP marks for one year and one day following its investigation of a grievance filed by Mr. Abbas' former business partner, and a consent decree into which Mr. Abbas entered with his state's securities division. In the consent decree, Mr. Abbas agreed that his own firm would not apply for Registered Investment Advisor status for two years, and that his registration as an Investment Advisor Representative with another firm would be subject to restrictions, including the requirement that he pass the Series 66 examination and that he be under strict supervision for one year. CFP Board found that on multiple occasions Mr. Abbas was involved in personal loans involving clients; Mr. Abbas used a photocopy of a client's signature to effect third-party transactions in the client's account; and Mr. Abbas failed to disclose to his business partner the large debt load carried by his former business before the firm, as well as the precarious nature of his own personal finances.

TENNESSEE

Ralph T. Grubb (Johnson City): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Grubb's right to use the CFP marks for one year and one day following its investigation of six customer complaints filed against him between 2000 and 2001, as well as a grievance filed against him with CFP Board. CFP Board found that Mr. Grubb implemented unsuitable investments, churned client accounts, and placed unauthorized trades in a client account. CFP Board also found that Mr. Grubb misrepresented and sold a client unsuitable annuities for the client's college-age children and that he misrepresented the client's investment objectives on an account form.

TEXAS

Thomas M. Couch Jr. (Houston): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Couch's right to use the CFP marks for one year and one day after Mr. Couch disclosed that he was named in three NASD arbitrations alleging misrepresentation, fraud, failure to supervise, breach of fiduciary duty and negligence related to activities of other brokers in his firm. Two of the arbitrations resulted in awards against Mr. Couch for $512,000 and $253,000, in addition to findings that Mr. Couch engaged in unfair and deceptive practices and violated state law in connection with the sale of securities. CFP Board subsequently discovered that Mr. Couch was the subject of an investigation by a state securities division arising from a customer complaint alleging fraud, forgery, unethical business practices and failure to supervise. CFP Board also discovered that Mr. Couch's registration with the NASD was suspended for failure to pay the award in one of the arbitrations. The suspension was lifted when Mr. Couch filed for bankruptcy. In addition, Mr. Couch failed to notify CFP Board of his NASD suspension within 10 days as required.

John Howard Towers (Plano): In November 2002, CFP Board suspended Mr. Towers' right to use the CFP marks for one year and one day following its investigation of three NASD arbitrations filed against him, as well as a civil lawsuit and a grievance filed with CFP Board regarding one of Mr. Towers' advertisements. CFP Board found that Mr. Towers misrepresented and over-concentrated certain investments in his clients' accounts and did not ensure his clients met suitability requirements. CFP Board also found that Mr. Towers' advertisement contained false or misleading communications and created unjustified expectations. Additionally, CFP Board found that Mr. Towers falsely attested on his renewal form with regard to his involvement in the civil suit and one NASD arbitration.

LETTERS OF ADMONITION

The following individuals were found to have been in violation of CFP Board's Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility. However, the violations did not rise to the level of revocation or suspension of their right to use the CFP certification marks.

CALIFORNIA

Richard J. Shanks (San Diego): In November 2002, CFP Board issued Mr. Shanks a public letter of admonition as part of a settlement agreement reached during the course of CFP Board's investigation into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent (AWC) Mr. Shanks signed, wherein he consented to findings that he entered into a company stock transaction effected in the account of a client of another NASD member firm resulting in a profit of $9,143; that his wife worked for the company in question and maintained certain restrictions on the purchase and sale of stock by employees and their families; and that he failed to obtain prior written authorization to share in the profit and/or losses of the transaction from the member firm carrying the client's account. Pursuant to the AWC, Mr. Shanks consented to a fine of $7,500 and a one-week suspension. Additionally, Mr. Shanks failed to disclose his professional suspension to CFP Board within 10 days, as well as an SEC investigation into the matter, as required.

FLORIDA

Russell Bruce Simmons (Tampa): In November 2002, CFP Board issued Mr. Simmons a public letter of admonition after it discovered that Mr. Simmons' registration with the NASD was revoked for non-payment of a fine to which he consented in a previous letter of acceptance, waiver and consent with the NASD. Additionally, Mr. Simmons failed to disclose his professional suspension within 10 days as required.

INDIANA

Deborah E. Romary (Fort Wayne): In November 2002, CFP Board issued Ms. Romary a public letter of admonition after discovering that she was the subject of two customer complaints, one filed directly with the NASD and the other filed with her broker/dealer that the NASD subsequently investigated. CFP Board found that Ms. Romary entered into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent with the NASD, wherein she consented to findings that: she recommended the transfer of money from a variable annuity to a life variable annuity to her client resulting in a $12,479 surrender charge; she made the recommendation without having a reasonable basis for it, as the products were similar in some ways and identical in others; and the recommendation was without material benefit to her client. Additionally, Ms. Romary consented to a 10-day suspension from association with any NASD member firm, a fine of $2,500 and restitution to her client in the amount of $12,479 plus interest, including disgorgement of $7,400 in commissions. CFP Board further found that Ms. Romary failed to disclose the NASD investigation on her renewal form as required, and failed to notify CFP Board of her professional suspension within 10 calendar days as required.

NEW JERSEY

Michael J. Spillert (Parsippany): In November 2002, CFP Board issued Mr. Spillert a public letter of admonition after it found that he had entered into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent with the NASD wherein he consented to findings that he forged an account-holder's signature on a broker-of-record change request, and consented to a one-year suspension and $10,000 fine. CFP Board also found that his employer terminated Mr. Spillert for his actions and that he failed to notify CFP Board of his professional suspension as required.

NEW YORK

Harry W. Linindoll III (East Greenbush): In November 2002, CFP Board issued Mr. Linindoll a public letter of admonition as part of a settlement agreement reached during the course of it's investigation into a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent (AWC) he entered into with the NASD. Pursuant to the AWC, Mr. Linindoll consented to findings that he engaged in private securities transactions without prior written notice to or approval from his broker/dealer related to the sale of viatical contracts to 12 individuals. Additionally, Mr. Linindoll consented to a two-month suspension, a $5,000 fine and disgorgement of $13,000 in commissions.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Robert P. Steib (Sioux Falls): In November 2002, after receiving a grievance from a former client and after a hearing was conducted, CFP Board issued Mr. Steib a public letter of admonition. The decision was based, in part, on findings that Mr. Steib (a) engaged in selling away when he used a bank other than the one used by his broker/dealer to complete transactions for his client; (b) was not aware of the fees and commissions the bank charged his client; and (c) inappropriately managed a client-planner engagement. In aggravation, CFP Board considered that it appeared Mr. Steib demonstrated no remorse or understanding of the inappropriateness of his actions and he did not fully understand CFP Board's ethical standards. Mr. Steib filed a petition appealing the decision. On Jan. 11, 2003, a hearing was conducted and the Board of Appeals affirmed the Board of Professional Review's findings of fact and the decision to issue Mr. Steib a public letter of admonition.

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Did You Know?

Among clients who work with an advisor, 87% of those working with a CFP® professional are satisfied or very satisfied, compared with 72% of those who work with an advisor without certification.
Anyone can call himself a “financial planner.” Only professionals who meet CFP Board’s rigorous standards can call themselves CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals.
The 2013 Household Financial Planning Survey shows that those with a financial plan feel more confident and report more success managing money, savings and investments than those without a plan.
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