Can you use OLD research reports as the basis for recommendations?

I just got basically every question wrong on the CFAI Reading 2 ethics vignette (questions 47 through 52). The scenario was that the people in the narrative were working from an OLD research report as the basis for a buy rating. Basically every solution for every question was that no violations of the Code and Standards were made. I thought certainly, this would be a violation of Diligence and Reasonable basis. So where is the line drawn on this?

Here is the vingette in question. It seems like this guy literally was given an old research report, added a Multi factor model to it, was then instructed to remove the multi factor model, and then wrote the old report off as a buy rating. And ALL of the answers are no violation! Am I missing something here?

The following information relates to Questions 47–52

Erik Brecksen, CFA, a portfolio manager at Apfelbaum Kapital, is a strong advocate of the CFA program. He displays the CFA logo on both his letterhead and business cards and prefers to hire only CFA candidates or charterholders. Brecksen recently recruited Hans Grohl, a CFA candidate and recent MBA graduate from a top university with excellent quantitative analysis skills. After receiving Grohl’s letter of acceptance, Brecksen instructs the personnel department to order business cards and letterhead for Grohl, telling them, “Use mine as a template. Just change the name, title, and other information as necessary.” When Grohl arrives for his first day of work, he receives business cards and letterhead displaying his name, the firm name, and the CFA logo.

Apfelbaum Kapital stresses “top-down” fundamental analysis and uses a team approach to investment management. The firm’s investment professionals, all of whom are CFA charterholders or candidates, attend weekly investment committee meetings. At the meetings, analysts responsible for different industrial sectors present their research and recommendations. Following each presentation, the investment committee, consisting of senior portfolio managers, questions the analyst about the recommendation. If the majority of the committee agrees with the recommendation, the recommendation is approved and the stock is placed on a restricted list while the firm executes the necessary trades.

Apfelbaum considers its research proprietary. It is intended for the sole use of its investment professionals and is not distributed outside the firm. The names of all the investment personnel associated with the sector or investment class are listed on each research report regardless of their actual level of contribution to the report.

On Grohl’s first day of work, Brecksen assigns him responsibility for a company that Brecksen covered previously. He provides Grohl with his past research including all of his files and reports. Brecksen instructs Grohl to report back when he has finished his research and is ready to submit his own research report on the company.

Grohl reads Brecksen’s old reports before studying the financial statements of the company and its competitors. Taking advantage of his quantitative analysis skills, Grohl then conducts a detailed multi-factor analysis. Afterward, he produces a written buy recommendation using Brecksen’s old research reports as a guide for format and submits a draft to Brecksen for review.

Brecksen reviews the work and indicates that he is not familiar with multi-factor analysis. He tells Grohl that he agrees with the buy recommendation, but instructs Grohl to omit the multi-factor analysis from the report. Grohl attempts to defend his research methodology, but is interrupted when Brecksen accepts a phone call. Grohl follows Brecksen’s instructions and removes all mention of the multi-factor analysis from the final report. Brecksen presents the completed report at the weekly meeting with both his and Grohl’s names listed on the document. After Brecksen’s initial presentation, the committee turns to Grohl and asks about his research. Grohl takes the opportunity to mention the multi-factor analysis. Satisfied, the committee votes in favor of the recommendation and congratulates Grohl on his work.

Ottie Zardt, CFA, has worked as a real estate analyst for Apfelbaum for the past 18 months. A new independent rating service has determined that Zardt’s recommendations have resulted in an excess return of 12% versus the industry’s return of 2.7% for the past twelve months. After learning about the rating service, Zardt immediately updates the promotional material he is preparing for distribution at an upcoming industry conference. He includes a reference to the rating service and quotes its returns results and other information. Before distributing the material at the conference, he adds a footnote stating “Past performance is no guarantee of future success.”

(Institute 188-189)

Institute, CFA. 2018 CFA Program Level II Volume 1 Ethical and Professional Standards, Quantitative Methods, and Economics. CFA Institute, 07/2017. VitalBook file.

The citation provided is a guideline. Please check each citation for accuracy before use.

Maybe the test day strategy is to pick the answer you think is right, then cross it off and then randomly pick the other two choices?

Sometimes having some knowledge of material can be worse then random guessing (33% right).

Lol I would do that strategy if I didn’t go 37 for 40 on the previous Ethics EOC questions. Something about this damn vignette just caught me off-guard