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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority suspended ex-Merrill Lynch broker Andre Derricotte two years after cheating on both his Series 65 and Series 66 exams.

The Series 65 and Series 66 exams are closed-book tests adminstered by Finra for prospective financial advisors. Test-takers are banned from accessing their cell phones or personal notes: instead, given dry-erase boards and markers for note-taking.

Finra found that when Derricotte sat for the Series 66 exam in August of 2019, he brought paper and writing instruments to the exam and used them to take unauthorized personal notes, which he referenced throughout the exam.

‘A test center staff member discovered and confiscated his writing instrument during the examination, but did not discover the notes he had taken,’ Finra wrote. ‘Derricotte then took a second unauthorized writing instrument from the desk of a test center staff member, which he used to continue taking personal notes.’

When Derricotte sat for the Series 65 exam in September of 2019, he allegedly brought paper and a writing instrument to the test center once again.

Listen – these aren’t the kind of exams that require ‘bar exam’ or even Series 7 level commitments with respect to time and brain power. If you choose to cheat on one of these exams, you are a half step away from cheating clients in ways that will eventually get you tossed from the industry anyway.

Feels like a two year ban is a little light? Why let this guy back in the door at any point?

‘A test center staff member observed Derricotte’s use of the prohibited items during the examination and questioned Derricotte,’ Finra found. ‘Derricotte did not cooperate with the test center staff, however, and instead concealed the prohibited pieces of paper he had used to take notes in further violation of the rules of conduct.’

Finra also found that Derricotte accessed his cell phone during breaks over the course of the Series 66 exam.

Merrill Lynch discharged Derricotte — who had worked in the firm’s Short Hills, N.J. office since July of 2019 — in January, according to his BrokerCheck profile. The firm said on Derricotte’s BrokerCheck profile that it had lost confidence in him ‘due to failure to be forthcoming with the firm and with Finra staff regarding conduct at a Finra testing center.’

Derricotte accepted Finra’s discipline without admitting or denying the allegations levied against him. The regulatory agency also fined him $5k.

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