Compliance Department Fining Me

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May 9, 2018 11:48 pm

I'm looking for some guidance!

I work for a Financial Services firm as an independent contractor advisor.

I posted an outdated flyer on social media which was against my company's sales literature and social media policy. It was a mistake which I fixed as soon as asked to fix it. The error caused no damages to the firm, there were no complaints on my posting, and it was a first offense.

As a result of this mistake, my Compliance department has decided to fine me $500 for the error. I received the notice 2 weeks ago and have had a total of 30 days to act. There was no progressive warning nor is there a breakdown of fines for offenses with our firm.

My compliance department did not contact me to discuss the issue, nor did my regional supervisors who deal directly with compliance. My manager did tell me he needed a statement from me and to take the postings down. He was not instructed to explain the ins and outs of the issue, simply that the flyer was outdated.

Not long after I received the reprimand. I had a family vacation and also needed an opportunity to speak with my regional supervisors to discuss why I was being fined. In response to this delay, which was still within the thirty day window, my Chief Compliance Officer told my branch manager that our company isn't "the people's court" or "judge judy". Implying that I am not allowed to debate or appeal the issue.

I have since spoken with my regional supervisors who basically said I need to pay the fine and immediately. They explained that the issue was black and white as far as the offense, which I acknowledge, but the fine amount and level of punishment doesn't seem to match the crime. They explained that our social media fine and punishment schedule is more severe than other offenses. However, this schedule has never been made available to advisors or managers (when I was a manager). The words also came out that the complaince department was looking to "make an example".

I have not signed the letter of reprimand yet, but intend to, unfortunately, if I want to keep my position.

Is this behavior legal on the part of my firm and the compliance department? Should I be seeking other counsel? Am I wrong to think that the fine is unwarranted?