Integrity Brokerage Services and its owner Joshua Helmle have been sanctioned by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) based upon an Extended Hearing Panel Decision containing findings that the firm and Helmle allowed a broker named Marc Jaffe to associate with the firm knowing that the broker had been sanctioned and disqualified by FINRA. Department of Enforcement v. Integrity Brokerage Services and Joshua Helmle Disciplinary Proceeding No. 2018056436001 (July 23, 2021).
According to the Decision, between February of 2016 to April of 2020, Marc Jaffe was permitted by Integrity Brokerage Services and Helmle to take part in activities that required Jaffe to be registered through FINRA as a stockbroker. The regulator indicated that Jaffe was not allowed to associate with Integrity Brokerage Services unless authorized by the regulator. The regulator told Helmle that Jaffe could not associate with Integrity Brokerage Services in part based on the firm already allowing Jaffe to do things which required him to be registered.
Jaffe had a $1,200,000.00 book of business at the time of his FINRA sanctions. This equated to twice the annual revenues earned by Integrity Brokerage Services at the time that they brought him in. Helmle allowed Jaffe to become registered with the securities broker dealer so that Integrity and Helmle could accumulate revenues from Jaffe’s book of business.
Helmle tried to avoid FINRA’s restrictions through having Jaffe’s assistant, Andrea Wood, become associated with the firm under the arrangement that she would work with Jaffe through Woodgroup LLC, and that Jaffe would be a research analyst rather than a stockbroker. FINRA indicated that Jaffe generated the business for Wood as research analyst, but he was really giving customers investment advice and functioning like he did prior to his suspension as stockbroker.
When Helmle learned of Jaffe’s inability to register with Integrity Brokerage Services, he also had Andrea Wood take the lead on customers’ accounts. But Jaffe was still involved with customers and advising them about their investment portfolios. Helmle then tried to conceal that Jaffe was corresponding with customers while telling those customers that Jaffe would still be involved by generating investment ideas and speaking with them. FINRA indicated that Jaffe was believed by customers to be the stockbroker on their accounts. It was not until April 22, 2020 that Jaffe stopped associating with Integrity Brokerage Services.
Integrity Brokerage Services and Helmle violated FINRA Rules 2010, 8311 and 1210 as well as FINRA By-Laws Article III Section 3(b). Helmle has been barred by FINRA from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity. Integrity Brokerage Services was fined $44,938.00.