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FINRA fines Stephens over inadequate supervision of 'flash' emails

FINRA has censured Stephens Inc. and fined the company $900,000 forinadequately supervising internal "flash" emails sent by its researchanalysts to convey information about companies and industries it covered.

The action comes as FINRA found that from at least August2013 through January, the company did not adequately supervise the content anddissemination of flash emails. The regulator also found that the company failedto establish, maintain and enforce adequate written supervisory proceduresconcerning trading in connection with these flash emails.

The email program was designed as a way for researchanalysts to share publicly available news and insights regarding coveredcompanies with its sales and trading personnel for discussion with firmcustomers interested in those companies. FINRA said that thesefailures created the risk that the emails could potentially include materialnonpublic information that might be misused by sales and trading personnel.

Stephens will cease distributing flash emails and wasordered to implement a plan to conduct a comprehensive review of its policies,procedures and training in the research area. In settling the matter, Stephensneither admitted nor denied the charges, but consented to entry of FINRA'sfindings.