If you make your living in insurance or financial services, you need to consider what happens if the state or other regulatory body tries to discipline you.
If you are involved in a professional license disciplinary proceeding, including FINRA, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the Florida Department of Financial Services, or another professional licensing organization, you may be seriously considering entering a settlement agreement with the licensing agency. The pluses of entering a settlement are enticing. You get to end a stressful situation, and if you’re fortunate, serve a short suspension and move on with your career. Sometimes this may be the best decision. However, if you are licensed by more than one licensing agency or are intending to become licensed by another agency, the settlement you enter may come back to haunt you-even causing you to lose your other licenses. As always, the best option is to consult an attorney in order to make sure you are aware of your options and of any potential consequences that may occur.
What issues can arise after a settlement is signed in a professional license disciplinary proceeding?
In our experience, issues with settlements often can come up for professionals who are licensed by the Florida Department of Financial Services and FINRA or the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. The client has an insurance license with the Florida Department of Financial Services and has entered into a settlement with FINRA, the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, or another licensing agency. The culprit for this is Florida Statute § 626.621(13) which states, “Has been the subject of or has had a license, permit, appointment, registration, or other authority to conduct business subject to any decision, finding, injunction, suspension, prohibition, revocation, denial, judgment, final agency action, or administrative order by any court of competent jurisdiction, administrative law proceeding, state agency, federal agency, national securities, commodities, or option exchange, or national securities, commodities, or option association involving a violation of any federal or state securities or commodities law or any rule or regulation adopted thereunder, or a violation of any rule or regulation of any national securities, commodities, or options exchange or national securities, commodities, or options association.”
Under this statute, the Florida Department of Financial Services can institute disciplinary proceedings against a person’s insurance license originating from an action brought from another professional licensing agency. For example, if an insurance agent who is licensed in Florida, is also licensed by FINRA, and FINRA institutes disciplinary proceedings against the agent, the Department of FInancial Services can institute license disciplinary proceedings against the agent’s insurance license as well. The insurance license disciplinary proceedings are only based on the the proceedings instituted by FINRA. In the disciplinary proceedings, all the Department of Financial Services needs to show is that the licensee is subject to the FINRA order. According to rules of the Department of Financial Services, the penalty for being subject to a FINRA disciplinary action is the same as was implemented by FINRA against the licensee’s FINRA license. Therefore, if your FINRA license was revoked, your insurance license can be revoked as well.
Can you prevent issues arising after a settlement is signed?
How can you prevent this from happening? The only way to put yourself in the best position to save any other professional licenses if one of them is under attack is to consult with an attorney as soon as you receive a complaint or other document initiating a disciplinary proceeding against your professional license. In fact, if you receive any notice that there is an investigation into potentially wrongful conduct related to your professional license, you should talk to an attorney right away. You have rights and an attorney will be able to advise you on how to assert them. An attorney will also be able to assess your case and can advise you on the consequences of settling your disciplinary proceeding. In some case, such as those described in this post, it may be in your best interest to fight the charges against you. Your professional license is your livelihood, fight for it.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
One of the practice areas of Richert Quarles P.A. is professional license defense. Contact us today for a free consultation on your case. During our consultation, one of our attorneys will review the facts of the case, any documents that were filed in the case, and may be able to answer any questions you may have about the process. Please remember that if you are served with an administrative complaint, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible.
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