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GunnAllen Financial says it's on the right path, despite scrutiny from regulators

GunnAllen Financial has securities regulators combing over its books. Its primary owner, John Sykes, has left as board chairman, joined by two other members of his investment team in the exodus.

So what's the company's assessment of the situation?

"So far, the firm is having a good month," said David Levine, executive vice president of the Tampa-based brokerage.

Revenue generated by brokers are up in December, he said Tuesday. The number of brokers (more than 600) and client assets under management (about $5 billion) have remained steady despite the publicity, he said.

Investment News, a trade publication, first reported that the industry regulator known as FINRA, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, was poring through GunnAllen's financials reportedly to determine whether the company has enough capital to stay in business.

Earlier, in reporting Sykes' departure, the publication said GunnAllen "appears to be in serious disarray and faces questions about its financial future."

Levine said FINRA checks the firm's net capital every month and has a responsibility to investigate further in the wake of any material news.

But he said that doesn't indicate any financial concerns clients should worry about. He stressed that third-party custodians — not GunnAllen itself — control client assets.

Levine also downplayed the recent departure of Sykes from the board room, saying it affected primarily the holding company. The core management of the firm itself is unchanged except for the departure of Scott Bendert, part of Sykes' team.

"The firm has a plan and the firm will continue to go forward," he said. "That doesn't, unfortunately, stop some journalists and some recruiters from frankly making up stories and scaring the organization and scaring clients."

Jeff Harrington can be reached at jharrington@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8242.

GunnAllen Financial says it's on the right path, despite scrutiny from regulators 12/15/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2009 11:00pm]
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