Former Broker Says Paperwork Error Led to FINRA Action


Former Broker Says Paperwork Error Led to FINRA Action
Bentley Blackmon

You may have read that Naviter Wealth CEO Bentley Blackmon took a $5,000 fine and a 3-month suspension by FINRA, but ultimately the former Stephens Inc. managing director didn’t have to pay, and never missed a day’s work.

Blackmon, who was dismissed by Stephens in 2020 over paperwork infractions against the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, signed a waiver and consent conceding he had broken its rules. But since Naviter, the Little Rock wealth management group he helped found last year, isn’t a broker-dealer governed by FINRA, he’s been working as usual and hasn’t written a $5,000 check.

“Once you’ve agreed to the acceptance waiver and consent that FINRA sends out, they give you a chance to send a statement of mitigation,” Blackmon said, describing his sin as a paperwork oversight as Stephens shifted to remote work amid COVID-19.

Blackmon’s infractions and full mitigation statement are searchable at brokercheck.finra.org.

“I have not had a three month suspension where I had to sit out from work, nor did I pay a $5,000 fine,” he told Whispers in a telephone interview last week. “I nor our firm is under FINRA’s jurisdiction. The reason that I went through that is my former firm did fall under FINRA jurisdiction.”

The $5,000 fine and three-month suspension won’t apply unless Blackmon goes back to work at a FINRA-related broker-dealer, “which I can assure you I will never do,” he said.

“Ultimately, the infraction that I had — and it is one — was that I turned in a form late. It wasn’t that I didn’t turn it in; I turned it in late while we were forced to work from home during COVID. It was a clerical error,” but one that Stephens Inc. took seriously, he said. “So that’s just where we are.”