Certain securities salespeople are giving the brokerage industry a bad name by putting clients into manifestly unsuitable securities, namely leveraged and inversed ETFs, which are attracting wary and watchful eyes among U.S. regulators. In 2013, FINRA brought 19 cases involving ETFs with fines totaling more than $1.5 million and restitution of nearly $780,000.

One of the latest examples of regulatory scrutiny: FINRA has fined two brokerage units of Stifel Financial Corp for allegedly selling risky, ill-suited ETF products to certain customers. The penalty for Stifel is $550,000 with restitution of $475,000 to 65 harmed customers.

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