The Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney on Tuesday, fining the firm $8 million for selling unsuitable ETF products to customers and not obtaining proof the clients understood the risks involved with purchasing inverse ETFs. Morgan Stanley admitted its wrongdoing. Those clients did not sign disclosure notices that explained that single inverse ETFs were typically unsuitable for investors planning to hold them longer than one trading session unless used as part of a trading or hedging strategy. Many of the clients who purchased single inverse ETFs to be held long-term in retirement and other accounts experienced losses. Morgan Stanley also failed to conduct risk reviews to evaluate the suitability of inverse ETFs for each advisory client and did not ensure that certain financial advisers completed training on the product and its risks.
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