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John Neely: Former Berthel Fisher Advisor Suspended by FINRA

A disciplinary action taken by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against Russellville, Arkansas broker and investment advisor John Neely (CRD# 501565) suspended him over allegations he exercised unauthorized discretion in hundreds of transactions. A representative of St. Bernard Financial Services who was previously registered with Berthel Fisher in Oklahoma, Neely was suspended for 15 days and fined $5,000.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2015043584402) dated November 2018, John Neely was registered with Berthel & Company Financial Services when, between June 2014 and 2015, he “exercised discretion in effecting hundreds of transactions in two customers’  brokerage accounts” without seeking and receiving written approval from the customers in question. FINRA’s findings go on to state that the customers had provided verbal authorization for the use of discretion in their accounts, but that Neely’s member firm had forbade the use of such in brokerage accounts. He never sought the firm’s approval to exercise discretion in the accounts, according to FINRA, which found his conduct to constitute violations of two securities industry conduct rules: NASD Rule 2510(b), which forbids representatives from using discretionary authority in customer accounts unless they’ve received prior written authorization from the customer and the firm’s written acceptance of the accounts as discretionary; and FINRA Rule 2010, which concerns standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade. As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, John Neely was suspended from associating with any FINRA member in any capacity for 15 days. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $5,000.

John Neely has been registered as a broker and investment advisor with St. Bernard Financial Services in Russellville, Arkansas since March 2019. His employment history includes Berthel Fisher & Company in Edmond, Oklahoma; WFG Investments; Spelman & Company; Century Investment Group; Prudential Securities; Rauscher Pierce Refsnes; Finser Investment Company; Investment Securities of Oklahoma; and Woolsey & Company. He currently holds one state license and has passed seven securities industry qualification examinations.

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