Joanne Bume, CFA, is the head of research at large brokerage firm. Currently, her airline analyst has a "market-underperform" rating on Universal Airline Company. Joanne is contacted by Bill Smith, who is not only the head of the corporate finance department for the firm but he is also vice-chairman. It seems that Bill is soliciting some business from Universal however, the current rating imposed by the airline analyst is hampering his efforts. Bill asks Joanne to persuade her airline analyst to revisit the facts about Universal, since "there is so much at stake here". In order not to violate the Standards of Professional Conduct, Joanne should:
A) cease rating Universal Airlines and instead only provide factual statements about the company.
B) assign a different analyst to prepare a new report on Universal.
C) ask Bill to submit, in writing, what he is instructing Joanne to do, and then execute his instructions.
The correct answer is: a)
The proper course of action would simply be to place Universal Airlines on a restricted list until the investment banking relationship with that company comes to an end. However, during the period in which that relationship is active, the research department may only release factual information about Universal. No ratings should be released.
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