Former Broker Says Paperwork Error Led to FINRA Action


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.”