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Last Updated on: 17th October 2023, 06:01 pm
Getting charged with federal fraud can definitely complicate things if you want to work in finance. The financial industry is highly regulated, and employers will be wary of hiring someone with a fraud conviction. But an outright ban from the industry is less common than you might think.
Here’s an overview of how federal fraud charges could impact your finance career, along with some tips for moving forward.
So you got charged with federal fraud. That sucks. Let’s assume you got convicted too. The most obvious penalty is potential jail time, which could be up to 20 years for felony fraud. But other common penalties include:
All those hurt, but here’s the kicker: Under federal law, fraud can also lead to a bar from working in the financial industry by regulatory agencies like the SEC. So that career you worked so hard for could be over, just like that. Let’s discuss how bars work and whether your career is definitely over.
Several agencies like the SEC and CFTC can ban you from finance for fraud under Section 15(b)(6) and other laws. This is known as a “statutory disqualification.” Here’s a quick rundown of how bars work:
So in short, the SEC won’t necessarily ban you permanently on the first offense. But any bar will put your career on hold for a while.
Here’s the good news: An automatic lifetime ban from finance is pretty rare, even for felony fraud charges. According to this analysis, only 28% of SEC fraud cases from 2017-2019 resulted in industry bars. So there’s a decent chance you’ll avoid a bar, especially if it’s a first offense.
That said, the SEC has banned more people in recent years. From 2013-2015, only 14% of cases led to bars. So expect increased scrutiny of your case.
If the SEC does pursue a bar against you, here are some factors that may influence their decision:
So if it was a short, low-level scheme you immediately reported, your odds are better. But expect extra scrutiny for higher-level, long-running schemes involving large sums of money.
Let’s say despite your best efforts, you do get slapped with a bar. Is your career over for good? Not necessarily. You can request permission to work in finance again in a few ways:
So in summary, a bar doesn’t have to be career-ending. But it does mean an uphill battle to work in finance again. Expect to put in a lot of work rehabilitating yourself before regulators will trust you again.
Given all the barriers, it’s reasonable to ask whether it’s better to just leave finance behind. An outright career change certainly avoids many headaches. But you’ll need to weigh several factors:
For older industry veterans with deep expertise, starting fresh may not make sense. But for younger folks just starting out, or those lukewarm about finance, a change may be just what you need.
If you do decide it’s time to leave finance, plenty of options exist. Look for roles that leverage your skills in areas like:
Do an honest self-assessment of your strengths. Then make a plan to transition them to a related field. It may require going back to school or starting at a lower level. But you can put your skills to work in many industries with the right strategy.
Here are a few final thoughts to wrap up:
Stay positive, be smart, and take it one step at a time. With patience and perseverance, you can get through this and still have a fulfilling career, wherever that takes you.
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