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FINRA Issues Sanctions Against Matt Ward for Unauthorized Discretionary Trading

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has announced disciplinary action against Matt Ward (CRD #2075525), fining him $5,000 and suspending him from association with any FINRA member in all capacities for 15 business days. This action follows findings that Ward exercised discretion in customer accounts without obtaining the necessary written authorization.

Background and Findings

Matt Ward, a registered representative based in Los Angeles, California, consented to the sanctions without admitting or denying the findings. According to FINRA, Ward engaged in unauthorized discretionary trading in several customer accounts. Discretionary trading refers to the ability to make trading decisions on behalf of customers without prior approval for each trade.

Lack of Authorization

The findings revealed that Ward executed trades in customer accounts without first speaking to the customers on the day of the transactions. While Ward’s customers were aware that he was exercising discretion in their accounts, he did not have the required prior written authorization from any of them. Additionally, his member firm had not accepted any of the accounts as discretionary.

Regulatory Compliance

FINRA regulations require that registered representatives obtain written authorization from customers and that member firms formally accept the accounts as discretionary before exercising such control. These safeguards are in place to protect investors from unauthorized trading activities and to ensure transparency in account management.

Sanctions and Suspension

As a consequence of his actions, Matt Ward was fined $5,000 and suspended from association with any FINRA member for 15 business days. The suspension was in effect from March 4, 2024, through March 22, 2024. This disciplinary measure serves as a reminder of the importance of adhering to regulatory requirements and the potential consequences of non-compliance.

FINRA’s Role and Responsibilities

FINRA is committed to protecting investors and maintaining the integrity of the financial markets by regulating brokerage firms and their registered representatives. By imposing sanctions on individuals like Ward, FINRA emphasizes the necessity of compliance with established rules and the protection of investors’ interests.

Investor Awareness

This case highlights the need for investors to be aware of the management of their accounts and to ensure that their financial professionals are complying with all regulatory requirements. Investors should regularly review their account statements and communicate with their brokers to understand the nature of the transactions being conducted.

For more information on how to protect yourself from unauthorized trading and to check the background of a financial professional, visit FINRA’s BrokerCheck.


The disciplinary action against Matt Ward underscores FINRA’s dedication to enforcing regulatory standards and protecting investors from unauthorized activities. Ward’s failure to obtain written authorization for discretionary trading resulted in significant sanctions, highlighting the importance of compliance and investor protection in the financial industry.