Ronald Leonard Whittingham (also known as Ron Whittingham) of Orland Park Illinois a stockbroker formerly registered with LPL Financial LLC has been fined $5,000.00 and suspended for three months from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity supported by findings that false information had been placed on documents by Whittingham regarding customers’ variable annuity exchanges. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2017055447502 (October 28, 2021).
According to the AWC, from August of 2016 to December of 2016, variable annuity replacement forms were falsified by Whittingham. Twenty-two replacement disclosure forms were submitted by Whittingham to LPL Financial. In each instance, Whittingham indicated that the customer would receive a benefit through the exchange because they would receive a stepped-up death benefit in the new policy.
FINRA learned that each of the customers’ existing annuities contained stepped-up death benefits. Whittingham advised his customers to remove their existing death benefit features before he recommended the annuities that would serve as replacements. The regulator mentioned that Whittingham made these recommendations of customers’ removing their existing death benefit features so that the exchanges he would later recommend appeared more beneficial to customers.
FINRA also determined that Whittingham’s submission of replacement disclosure forms led LPL Financial to hold false records and books. Whittingham violated FINRA Rules 2010 and 4511 for this reason.
Whittingham was registered as a stockbroker of LPL Financial between April 28, 2016, and March 7, 2019, and registered as an investment adviser representative of Opus Wealth Management Group between April 29, 2016, and March 4, 2019. Since February 28, 2019, Whittingham has been registered with Cetera Advisors LLC as a stockbroker and investment adviser representative.