According to this article on law.com, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) reported an increase in discplinary actions and fines during the year 2011. FINRA, which oversees brokerage firms, stepped-up its enforcement, with nearly 1,500 actions filed in 2011. According to the article, FINRA banned 329 individuals from practicing in the industry during 2011, up from 288 in 2010.
FINRA identifies five primary areas of enforcement concern: advertising, short selling, auction rate securities, suitability, and improper filings. FINRA's suitability rule requires that a brokerage firm have a reasonable basis for recommending a customer's purchase or sale of a security. In 2011, FINRA reported $7.7 million worth of suitability fines from 106 cases involving suitability allegations (up from 53 such cases in 2009).