Jodie Ann LaMarre of Sarasota Florida is a stockbroker formerly registered with Robert W. Baird and Co. Incorporated who has been fined ten thousand dollars and suspended for one year from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon consenting to findings that she made an unsuitable investment recommendation to a customer and failed to be truthful when questioned by the firm about her activities. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2015046052701 (Feb. 23 2018).
According to the AWC, customers SL and IL maintained an account at Robert W. Baird that was serviced by LaMarre. The AWC stated that after SL died, LaMarre and IL met to address IL’s financial objectives and options relating to the assets that IL inherited from SL. Apparently, IL was eighty-two years old and lacked experience with investing and financing, so IL leaned entirely on LaMarre for making investment recommendations that were compatible with IL’s financial interests. The AWC also revealed that IL depended on a fixed income and maintained a total net worth of approximately $200,000.00.
IL was reportedly advised to liquidate two fixed annuities as well as a variable annuity and consolidate those proceeds with Robert W. Baird so that they could be invested according to LaMarre’s investment strategy. LaMarre then placed the majority of IL’s net worth inside of a managed account to invest in securities focused on producing income.
FINRA noted that LaMarre failed to take into account the tax liability that IL would incur in following LaMarre’s recommendations. IL’s ability to avoid federal income taxes was evidently a crucial element of IL maintaining a stable financial condition. Critically, LaMarre reportedly comprehended the tax liability that IL would face at the time that IL’s paperwork had been submitted and knew about IL having alternatives that did not necessitate annuity liquidations, which if pursued could have caused IL to have mitigated or avoided tax liabilities.
For example, IL was apparently SL’s beneficiary on a $70,000.00 variable annuity that was housed at an outside institution, wherein IL could have utilized a spousal continuation of the annuity to keep the proceeds tax deferred. LaMarre instead instructed IL to liquidate the annuity, which caused IL to incur $39,395.00 in taxable income for 2014.
IL was also beneficiary on SL’s $55,670.00 fixed annuity. Apparently, IL could have rolled over the account balance into an individual retirement account; however, those funds had been liquidated pursuant to LaMarre’s recommendations, which caused LaMarre to incur $55,670.00 in taxable income in 2014. Moreover, IL could have avoided tax liabilities relating to another $74,579.00 fixed annuity that she was beneficiary of, but the liquidation of that contract caused IL to incur $39,928.00 in income that was taxable.
FINRA found that LaMarre caused IL to incur $33,000.00 in undue tax liability as a result of LaMarre’s investment recommendations. IL’s situation was reportedly exacerbated by having to suffer from a reduction of $264.80 in her social security payment in 2016. FINRA noted that it was not possible for positive performance within the managed account’s income-producing investments to offset IL’s losses that IL incurred on the front end. Consequently, FINRA found that LaMarre’s conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 2111.
In addition, the AWC stated that LaMarre helped customer CB effect variable annuity withdrawals without those withdrawals having been subject to the firm’s oversight and supervision. LaMarre then purportedly tried to hide her wrongdoing by falsifying statements on the customer’s disclosure forms and furnishing false information to FINRA and LaMarre’s employer in regard to her activities.
Particularly, CB and LaMarre spoke in July of 2014 about liquidating Lincoln National and ING variable annuities, where the funds would be placed into either a managed fund or a new variable annuity. The AWC stated that CB was advised by LaMarre about how the investment could be made and was prompted for $118,000.00 to be withdrawn from CB’s variable annuities, with $80,000.00 being slated for deposit into a managed fund or variable annuity. FINRA stated that the instructions that
LaMarre provided CB failed to conform with the written supervisory procedures set forth by Robert W. Baird, as withdrawals necessitated disclosure forms to be completed and furnished to the firm’s annuities and insurance group.
The AWC stated that LaMarre subsequently tried to conceal her activities by convincing CB to complete disclosure forms for transactions that were previously executed, in which LaMarre then misrepresented that CB was not advised to liquidate funds from CB’s annuity and falsely stated that CB pursued those liquidations without LaMarre’s knowledge. Evidently, in 2014, CB reportedly discovered the large tax bill that would stem from CB’s liquidations, and complained about LaMarre having failed to inform the customer about the tax liabilities and for recommending investment transactions that would cause CB’s financial state to be detrimentally affected. LaMarre never informed the firm about CB’s complaint.
The AWC revealed that LaMarre continued to make false representations to her firm when questioned about her part in the customer’s liquidations and failed to be forthcoming to the firm and FINRA about what CB and LaMarre communicated to each other. FINRA found that LaMarre’s conduct in that regard was violative of FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511.
FINRA Public Disclosure reveals that LaMarre has been identified in two customer initiated investment related disputes pertaining to accusations of her wrongdoing during the period that she was registered with Robert W. Baird. Particularly, on October 1, 2015, a customer initiated investment related written complaint concerning LaMarre’s conduct was settled for $10,000.00 in damages founded on allegations that LaMarre poorly advised the customer about surrendering annuities and caused the customer to sustain an unnecessary tax liability. Subsequently, on March 14, 2017, a customer initiated investment related written complaint regarding LaMarre’s activities was resolved for $30,000.00 in damages based upon accusations that LaMarre made unsuitable investment recommendations relating to a variable annuity purchase.
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