The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority says it has suspended a UBS advisor fired over allegedly unapproved communications with customers.
Zachary Hansen, who joined the financial services industry in 2008, came to UBS in 2015, according to a letter of acceptance, waiver and consent published by the industry’s self-regulator.
In August, UBS discharged Hansen over alleged “violation of the firm's policies, including among others, encouraging/facilitating selling away, use of inappropriate electronic communications with clients, proper handling of customer complaints, and failure to disclose personal investments along with an [outside business activity,” according to BrokerCheck.
Finra alleges that between June 2018 and April 2020, Hansen “exchanged numerous text messages related to securities business with two firm customers,” using his personal cell phone, violating the firm’s requirement that employees could only communicate via channels authorized by the firm. As a result, UBS could not retain the text messages, according to the letter of consent.
Hansen consented to a 45-day suspension and to pay a $7,500 fine without admitting or denying the findings, Finra says.
Unauthorized communications by financial advisors have been at the center of a recent sweep by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission of the largest financial services firms, including UBS.
The company said in its latest quarterly report that it was targeted by the two regulators in its investigation into employees’ use of unapproved communications channels.
In December, JPMorgan agreed to pay $200 million in its settlement with the SEC and CFTC over its own alleged failures to monitor employees’ communications.
Morgan Stanley disclosed earlier this month that it also reached a settlement, for the same amount, with the two regulators over the matter.
Last month, Bank of America disclosed that it set aside $200 million related “to an industry-wide issue and it concerns the use of unapproved personal devices” and said that it hoped to resolve the matter in the coming weeks.
Also in July, Citigroup’s chief financial officer Mark Mason said on an earnings conference call with reporters that his firm had a one-time reserve for the regulators’ investigation into employee communications.
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