CFP Board Imposes Public Discipline

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CFP Board Imposes Public Discipline

Nov 25, 2019

Disciplinary actions relate to 11 current or former CFP® professionals

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) announced today public disciplinary actions against the following individuals, effective immediately or on the date noted in each case. Public disciplinary actions taken by CFP Board, in order of increasing severity, include letters of admonition, suspensions, and permanent revocations.

This release contains information about recent disciplinary actions relating to 11 current or former CFP® professionals. Of these actions, there was one letter of admonition, three suspensions, one revocation, and six administrative revocations.

The basis for each decision can be found in the Disciplinary Action Report below and on CFP Board’s website. The public may check on an individual’s disciplinary history and certification status with CFP Board at www.CFP.net/verify.  That website also provides links to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) BrokerCheck and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Investment Adviser Public Disclosure databases, which are free tools that may be used to conduct research on the background and experience of CFP® professionals who are subject to FINRA or SEC oversight, including with respect to employment history, regulatory actions, and investment-related licensing information, arbitrations, and complaints.

CFP Board’s enforcement process is a critical consumer protection. As part of their certification, a CFP® professional agrees to abide by CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Conduct (Code and Standards), or its predecessor, the Standards of Professional Conduct (Standards), which included the Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct, and Financial Planning Practice Standards.

CFP Board enforces its ethical standards by investigating incidents of alleged violations and, where there is probable cause to believe there are grounds for discipline, presenting a Complaint containing the alleged violations to CFP Board’s Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) pursuant to CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). If the Commission determines there are grounds for discipline, then it may impose a sanction ranging from a private censure or letter of admonition to the suspension or revocation of the right to use the CFP® marks. CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules set forth the process for investigating matters and imposing discipline where violations have been found.

The Commission meets at least six times a year to provide a fair, unbiased review of any matter in which CFP Board has alleged that a CFP® professional has violated the Standards.

The Commission functions in accordance with the Disciplinary Rules and reviews all matters on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the details specific to an individual case. While CFP Board has attempted to capture the details relevant to each decision, the summary nature of these releases may omit certain details affecting the decision. Accordingly, the decisions and/or rationale described in the releases may not apply to other cases reviewed by the Commission or reflect the Commission’s future interpretation or application of the Code and Standards, or the predecessor Standards.

STATE

NAME

LOCATION

DISCIPLINE

Ohio

Sam Aziz

Powell

Administrative Revocation

Florida

Guarionex Berrido

Miami

Administrative Revocation

California

Harry F. Couglar

San Diego

Administrative Revocation

Michigan

David E. Ferwerda

Grand Rapids

Administrative Revocation

South Carolina

Benjamin Galloway

Columbia

Administrative Revocation

California

Ryan Logan

Newport Beach

Suspension

Arizona

Brian Moltz

Phoenix

Suspension

California

Dale F. Norton Jr.

Newhall

Administrative Revocation

Ohio

Kenneth R. Reeves

Painesville

Letter of Admonition

Kansas

Mark A. Schneider

Topeka

Revocation

Arizona

Michelle Lee Wagner

Tempe

Suspension


LETTER OF ADMONITION

OHIO

Kenneth R. Reeves (Painesville): In October 2019, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Reeves entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Reeves agreed that CFP Board would issue a Letter of Admonition. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Reeves consented to findings that he made misrepresentations to a client regarding the compensation he would receive in a transaction and otherwise failed to provide services diligently to his client. Mr. Reeves also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 102, 401(a), and 701 of the Code of Ethics, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 4.2 of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued a Letter of Admonition to Mr. Reeves.

SUSPENSIONS

ARIZONA

Brian Moltz (Phoenix): In August 2019, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Moltz entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Moltz agreed that CFP Board would issue a suspension for one-year and one-day of his right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1 , and 2certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Moltz consented to the findings that he received a $74,000 forgivable loan from his firm that he was required to repay in six annual installments, but which was structured to be periodically forgiven if Mr. Moltz was still associated with the firm and achieved applicable annual production requirements. Mr. Moltz voluntarily terminated his affiliation with the firm, upon which time the remaining balance of the loan and the interest became due.  Pursuant to the settlement agreement, Mr. Moltz consented to the finding that he defaulted on the loan and failed to make any payments pursuant to a settlement with his former employer.  Mr. Moltz also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rule 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct and Article 13.1 of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules) and provided grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(d) of CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules.  Accordingly, the Commission issued Mr. Moltz a one-year and one-day suspension.  Mr. Moltz’s suspension is effective from August 27, 2019, until August 28, 2020.

Michelle Lee Wagner (Tempe): In August 2019, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Ms. Wagner entered into a settlement agreement in which Ms. Wagner agreed that CFP Board would issue a suspension for two months of her right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Ms. Wagner consented to findings that she was ordered by the Arizona Corporation Commission to pay restitution to Arizona in the amount of $98,666, cease and desist, and pay a civil money penalty of $1,000 for improperly receiving a $400,000 loan from a client to purchase an office condominium, which she failed to repay, and instead declared bankruptcy.  Further, Ms. Wagner was issued a 30-day suspension of her license as a securities salesperson by Arizona and was suspended by the California Department of Insurance for 30 days.  Ms. Wagner also consented to findings that her conduct violated Rules 1.4, 3.6, and 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(d) of CFP Board’s Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued a two-month suspension. Ms. Wagner’s suspension was effective from August 27, 2019, until October 27, 2019.

CALIFORNIA

Ryan Logan (Newport Beach): In August 2019, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) and Mr. Logan entered into a settlement agreement in which Mr. Logan agreed that CFP Board would issue a six-month suspension of his right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2certification marks. In the settlement agreement, Mr. Logan consented to the findings that he was suspended for 30 days and fined $5,000 in 2016 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for incorrectly altering the contact information of clients; was suspended for three months and fined $5,000 in 2018 by FINRA for sharing in commissions with an unregistered individual and causing his books and records to be inaccurate; and failed to disclose the 2018 FINRA discipline to CFP Board.  Mr. Logan also consented to findings that his conduct violated Rules 5.1 and 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(a) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Accordingly, the Commission issued Mr. Logan a six-month suspension.  Mr. Logan’s suspension is effective from August 27, 2019, until February 27, 2020.

REVOCATION

KANSAS

Mark A. Schneider (Topeka): In April 2019, the Disciplinary and Ethics Commission (Commission) issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Schneider’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2certification marks. This discipline followed a bar by the Kansas Securities Commission and numerous findings of violations, which included: (a) Mr. Schneider’s failure to put the interests of his clients ahead of his own, in violation of Rule 1.4 of the Rules of Conduct, with respect to charging clients unreasonable fees and his recommendations of unsuitable inverse and leveraged inverse exchange-traded funds; (b) Mr. Schneider’s failure to treat prospective clients and clients fairly and provide professional services with integrity, in violation of Rule 4.1 of the Rules of Conduct, with respect to his charging of unreasonable investment fees; (c) Mr. Schneider’s failure to meet Kansas regulatory requirements in violation of Rule 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct; (d) Mr. Schneider’s consistently inappropriate and unsuitable recommendations and selection of products based on the needs of his clients, in violation of Rule 4.5 of the Rules of Conduct and Practice Standards 400-2 and 500-2; (e) Mr. Schneider’s failure to report his bar by the Kansas Securities Commission to CFP Board within 30 days; and (f) Mr. Schneider’s false statements to CFP Board.  After finding numerous grounds for discipline under the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures, the Commission issued Mr. Schneider a Revocation.  Mr. Schneider’s revocation was effective as of August 5, 2019.

ADMINISTRATIVE REVOCATIONS

CALIFORNIA

Harry F. Couglar (San Diego): In September 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Couglar’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2 certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Couglar’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Couglar entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) finding that, from March 2012 through December 2016, Mr. Couglar prepared tax returns for at least 18 individuals who were not customers of his firm without disclosing these activities to the firm, in writing or otherwise. The AWC also found that tax preparation services were not within the scope of Mr. Couglar’s duties at his firm, and that Mr. Couglar received $27,255 in compensation from the tax preparation services.  Further, the AWC found that, on five occasions, Mr. Couglar submitted compliance questionnaires in which he falsely stated that he did not have a discretionary authority over any outside securities accounts belonging to non-family members. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Couglar’s conduct violated 4.3 of Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline pursuant to Article 3(e) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Couglar’s declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules.  In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Couglar’s revocation was effective as of October 17, 2019.

Dale F. Norton Jr. (Newhall): In September 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Norton’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1 and 2certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Norton’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Norton was convicted with a felony violation of the California Penal Code relating to the possession of child pornography, for which he was sentenced to five years of probation, required to attend a 52-week offender counseling program, complete 100 hours of community service, register as a convicted sex offender, and pay a $400 fine. The Complaint further alleged that the California Department of Insurance issued an Order Summary Revocation permanently revoking Mr. Norton’s insurance license for pleading guilty to one count of possession of child pornography. The Complaint also alleged that the California Board of Accountancy issued an Accusation against Mr. Norton due to his criminal conviction which led to his Certified Public Accountant License being suspended for six months and three years of probation.  The Complaint further alleged that Mr. Norton failed to notify CFP Board within 30 days of his conviction, the suspension of his CPA license, or the revocation of his insurance license.  CFP Board’s Complaint also alleged that Mr. Norton’s conduct violated Rules 4.3 and 6.5 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Articles 3(e) and 3(f) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Norton’s declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Norton’s revocation was effective as of October 17, 2019.

OHIO

Sam Aziz (Powell): In September 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Aziz’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Aziz’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Aziz entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc. (FINRA) finding that Mr. Aziz was terminated in 2018 while under an internal investigation. The AWC also found that FINRA commenced an investigation into Mr. Aziz’s sales practices at his previous firm for excessive trading and unsuitable recommendations involving the use of margin and for attempting to settle a customer complaint away from his member firm.  The AWC further found that, in March 2019, FINRA sent a request for on-the-record testimony which Mr. Aziz acknowledged but would not appear for, resulting in a FINRA bar.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Aziz’s conduct violated Rule 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct and Article 13.2 of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules), providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(d) and 3(e) of the Disciplinary Rules. Mr. Aziz declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Aziz’s revocation was effective as of October 17, 2019.

FLORIDA

Guarionex Berrido (Miami): In July 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Berrido’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2 certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Berrido’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) issued Mr. Berrido a Cautionary Action Letter finding that Mr. Berrido violated FINRA Rule 2010 for signing a customer’s name on a financial document.  CFP Board’s Complaint also alleged that Mr. Berrido’s conduct violated Rules 1.4, 4.1, 4.3, and 5.1 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(a) of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Berrido’s declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Berrido’s revocation was effective as of August 16, 2019.

MICHIGAN

David E. Ferwerda (Grand Rapids): In September 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Ferwerda’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Ferwerda’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe.  CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that, in October 2018, Mr. Ferwerda entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) that barred him for failing to provide documents and information to FINRA with respect to his sale of notes related to unregistered investment companies. The Complaint also alleged that Mr. Ferwerda did not notify CFP Board of the FINRA bar within 30 days of his entry into the AWC and alleged that Mr. Ferwerda’s conduct violated Rule 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(A) Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules). Mr. Ferwerda’s declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Ferwerda’s revocation was effective as of October 17, 2019.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Benjamin Galloway (Columbia): In September 2019, CFP Board issued an order permanently revoking Mr. Galloway’s right to use the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, 1, and 2certification marks. This discipline followed Mr. Galloway’s failure to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within the required timeframe. CFP Board’s Complaint alleged that Mr. Galloway entered into a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (AWC) with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. (FINRA) barring him from association with any FINRA member based on his refusal to appear for on-the-record testimony as part of an investigation into his request for mileage reimbursement and use of a firm credit card.  The Complaint further alleged that Mr. Galloway did not notify CFP Board of the FINRA bar within 30 days of his entry into the AWC, and that his conduct violated Rules 4.3 of the Rules of Conduct, providing grounds for discipline under Article 3(A) and 13.3 of the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures (Disciplinary Rules).  Mr. Galloway declined to file an Answer to CFP Board’s Complaint within 20 calendar days of the date of service, as required by Article 7.3 of the Disciplinary Rules. In accordance with Article 7.4 of the Disciplinary Rules, the allegations set forth in the Complaint were deemed admitted, and CFP Board issued an Administrative Order of Revocation. Mr. Galloway’s revocation was effective as of October 17, 2019.

ABOUT CFP BOARD

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) is a professional body for personal financial planners in the United States.  CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services – so that the public has access to and benefits from competent and ethical financial planning. CFP Board, along with its Center for Financial Planning, is committed to increasing the public’s awareness of CFP® certification and access to a diverse, ethical and competent financial planning workforce. Widely recognized by firms as the standard for financial planning, CFP® certification is held by over 85,000 people in the United States.

CONTACT: Terence Poltrack, Communications Consultant, P: 202-864-5201, M: 703-851-4415, E: tpoltrack@cfpboard.org, Twitter: @cfpboardmedia

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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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