Continuing education requirements are a fact of life for most financial professionals. The vast majority dutifully complete their courses, take their exams and do a better job for their clients as a result. However, a few opt to game the system by recruiting others to take their tests on their behalf — or to take tests for other people in their firms.

If this unethical and illegal practice has ever crossed your mind, banish the thought now. That's because playing fast and loose with CE can earn you a big fine or even a suspension from the business. Just ask the State Farm representatives who recently got caught by their company and ultimately punished by FINRA.

The case involved 16 representatives working for State Farm VP Management Corporation of Bloomington, Ill. FINRA recently suspended them for misconduct involving its registered representative Continuing Education program. The representatives also received fines ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 and suspensions ranging from 30 days to six months.

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