A 25-year veteran of the BC advisor community has agreed to a settlement with IIROC staff that sees the former Manulife Securities’ registered representative banned for five years and fined $175,000 for inappropriate dealings with several clients.
Robert Lewis was an RR in a Vancouver Manulife branch between January 2008 and April 2012 when the infractions took place. IIROCs investigation into Lewis’s actions formally began in July 2012 and he is no longer registered with any IIROC-regulated firm.
Lewis contravened five IIROC rules or policies including the following:
- Preparing tax returns for clients without approval from Manulife;
- Lending money to five clients without approval;
- Failing to notify Manulife of a client complaint and settling the complaint without its approval;
- Using pre-signed blank client forms to process client instructions; and
- The improper use of client funds held at a credit union outside Manulife.
While all of these infractions are frowned upon it seems that the problem of pre-signed blank forms continues to exist despite the best efforts of SROs to combat the issue.
“Between 2008 and 2012, the Respondent used a blank or partially completed form signed by a client or a copy of a blank or partially completed form signed by a client in over 100 different situations for approximately 22 different clients,” wrote IIROC in its settlement agreement with Lewis. “The Respondent had been warned by the Manulife Compliance Department in or around June 2010 that the possession of pre-signed client forms was prohibited. The Respondent acknowledged that the practice of holding blank pre-signed client forms was not permitted and was not an acceptable practice. The Respondent continued using blank pre-signed client forms after receiving the warnings from Manulife and after acknowledging that the practice was improper.”
Dealers know better than to let these types of issues carryon unchecked especially after warning this advisor of said infractions. While Lewis had a big part to play in this enforcement case it’s important that dealers make greater efforts to ensure these things are stamped out by compliance before they get to the fining and/or banning stage.
Note: In the original version the respondent appeared as Paul Lewis. That's been corrected to Robert Lewis.