Articles Tagged with UBS

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, there has been a recent trend at big brokerages of shifting the power from the headquarters to brokers and branch managers. Apparently big brokerages like Bank Of America, UBS Group, and Merrill Lynch are “unleashing” their brokers and moving power closer to the brokers and their managers, both to keep brokers from leaving their firms and to increase revenues.

These modifications come in the wake of declining revenues and broker exoduses several big brokerages have experienced after the financial crisis. They have also witnessed that brokers who dislike or disagree with their managers and find them unhelpful tend to leave the brokerages more easily. The big brokerages have had to deal with rising regulatory costs and competing with an increasing number of independent advisers. According to research conducted by consulting groups, the registered investment adviser model is more successful as it is a smaller and more tightly integrated groups. Taking a cue from that, the zillion dollar brokerages are making changes aimed at empowering, training and giving their brokers more control over day to day decisions over clients, growth, and resource allocation. Merrill Lynch has plans to restructure the brokerage leadership, emphasize more on productivity and training, and reduce the number of divisions. UBS also made similar changes last year.

There are plans underway to also automate investment advisory and make use of robos to cater to a younger clientele so that the brokers can be freed up to deal with high net worth clients. All in all, this gradual shift is geared towards taking things back to how they were before the financial crisis hit, when the field agents and managers had more autonomy to structure their branches, price and sell services, be less accountable to corporate headquarters, hold more power and sway.

office_suit_corportate_237605_l-300x224The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Matthew Maczko.  Mr. Maczko was employed and registered with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC, a national broker-dealer out of the firm’s Oakbrook, Illinois, from February 2008 to September 2016, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  He was previously registered with UBS Financial Services, Inc. from November 1998 to March 2008, according to BrokerCheck records.

In 2017, Mr. Maczko was permanently barred from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer by FINRA, after submitting a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2016050430201.  According to the AWC, Mr. Maczko violated NASD Rule 2310 and Rule 2111, both pertaining to suitability of investment recommendations, because from 2009 to 2016, Mr. Maczko “effected excessive transactions in four brokerage accounts of [a] customer … who is now 93 years old,” and “during this period, Maczko effected over 2800 transactions in these accounts that generated approximately $581,650 in commissions, $84,270 in other fees, and approximately $397,000 in trading losses.”  As the AWC went on, “[t]his level of trading was unsuitable.”

FINRA Suitability Rules require that recommendations made by the broker to the customer be suitable.  This means that the broker must consider the investor’s age, investment experience, age, tax status, other investments, as well as other factors when making a recommendation to buy or sell securities.

magnifying-glass-1412773-300x300The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding former UBS financial adviser Jeffrey Howell.

Per reports, Mr. Howell has been barred by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”)for providing a customer with false weekly account statements for over six years.  According to a settlement notice in connection with an investigation by FINRA , Mr. Howell sent these weekly statements with inflated values, at times overvaluing the account by close to $3 million.

Mr. Howell also allegedly used his own personal email account to distribute these reports, which compromised the accuracy of the firm’s books and records. Per BrokerCheck, Mr. Howell has not been licensed in the securities industry since 2014.

visions-from-im-5-1466265-225x300According to news reports, the SEC has fined UBS more than $15 million for its failures to properly supervise employees who sold complex investment products to unsophisticated and inexperienced clients of the firm. Complex products are traditionally reserved for only sophisticated investors who have a full understanding of the product and are appreciative and willing to take the risks involved. These are not typically appropriate or suitable for unsophisticated “mom and pop” investors.

Nonetheless, reports indicated that UBS’s financial advisors sold more than half a billion dollars’ worth of these complex products to more than 8,000 inexperienced investors. Making matters worse, reports reveal that many of these investors had moderate or conservative risk profiles. The products sold to investors are said to have included reverse convertible notes, some of which had derivatives that were tied to implied volatility.

This is not new for UBS, which just paid $19.5 million last year in connection with the firm’s sale of complex structured notes.

12234_corporate_blurMalecki Law’s team of investment fraud attorneys are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding broker David S. James. Mr. James was most recently working with UBS in California before being terminated by the firm, according to reports and industry records.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. James has been the subject of at least two customer disputes during his career in the industry.

It was recently reported that UBS let Mr. James go by UBS “for business practices that persistently drew compliance scrutiny.” Reports indicate that Mr. James was a high producing broker with UBS, a member of UBS’s Pinnacle Council and ranked as a Barron’s “Top 1200 Advisors” five times.

729163_investing_1The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have purchased structured notes or other complex products from Merrill Lynch or its parent company, Bank of America.

According to a recent SEC press release, “Merrill Lynch has agreed to pay a $10 million penalty to settle charges that it was responsible for misleading statements in offering materials provided to retail investors for structured notes linked to a proprietary volatility index.” The issues surrounding the notes stemmed, at least in part, from disclosure of the fees paid by investors and the fee structure related to the “volatility index” to which the notes were linked, per the SEC.

For example, the notes reportedly were subject to a 2% sales commission and 0.75% annual fee. According to the SEC, for investors to earn back their original investment on the maturity date, the index would need to increase by at least 5.93%. The SEC also alleged that the offering materials failed to “adequately disclose” the 1.5% execution factor, which was an additional cost.

exchange-cross-rates-1241602The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Michael Margiotta.  Mr. Margiotta has been employed and registered since June 2015 with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith, Inc., a broker-dealer, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per his BrokerCheck report, prior to his employment Merrill Lynch, Mr. Margiotta was employed by UBS Financial Services Inc. from October 2008 to June 2015, and with Citigroup Global Markets Inc. from December 2003 to November 2008, as well as other prior firms.

Mr. Margiotta’s BrokerCheck report indicates that he has received two customer complaints.  The first complaint received by Mr. Margiotta involved allegations that he purchased securities that were unsuitable for the investor and sought damages of $1 million, according to the BrokerCheck report.  That complaint resulted in a settlement to the investor of $355,000 to the investor the BrokerCheck report details.  The second complaint received by Mr. Margiotta alleged unsuitability and that the broker informed the client “oil had bottomed out for sure prompting [the investor] to purchase securities which plummeted,” according to BrokerCheck records.

The attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from customers of Steven Syslo who were recommended investments in SandRidge Energy, Inc. as a safe investment, or suitable for conservative investors. Mr. Syslo was employed by Morgan Stanley from June 2009 to June 2016, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). As disclosed in his BrokerCheck report, Mr. Syslo is currently employed by UBS Financial Services, Inc.

In July 2011, SandRidge Energy, Inc. traded at around $12 per share. The company announced that it was filing for bankruptcy protection on May 16, 2016, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.  According to the article, SandRidge Energy is an Oklahoma City-based driller, and is the latest oil and gas company to file for bankruptcy in 2016. Now, the company’s stock trades for pennies, and it is the company’s stockholders, including individual investors, who may be feeling the effects of substantial losses in their portfolios.

Broker-dealer firms such as Morgan Stanley are obligated by the securities laws and industry rules to ensure that recommended investments are suitable for each investor. Brokers must consider each investor’s age, tax status, net worth, investment experience and risk tolerance, among other factors. Investments in commodities such as oil and gas companies are generally considered to be risky investments. If investors were seeking conservative, stable investments, but were recommended oil and gas stocks or limited partnership interests, they may have claims for damages for unsuitable investments.

exclamation-point-icon-1444386The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law announce the firm’s investigation into potential securities law claims against broker-dealers relating to the improper sale of natural gas and oil linked structured notes and similar products to investors.

Malecki Law is interested in hearing from investors who purchased structured notes issued by well-known financial institutions, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch (NYSE: BAC), Citigroup (NYSE: C), Credit Suisse (NYSE: CS), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), JP Morgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), UBS (NYSE: UBS), and Barclays (NYSE: BCS).

These investment products, often bearing such names as “Phoenix,” “Plus,” “Enhanced Return,” “Principal Protected,” “Bullish,” “Leveraged Upside” or “Accelerated Return,” were reportedly marketed to investors as a way to make significant returns and income from the rising price of oil.  In addition to promises of increased gains, investments like these are frequently also sold to investors with assurances that their potential losses would be limited and their initial investment would be protected.

visions-from-im-5-1466265-225x300The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Florida-based UBS stockbroker Brian J. Gold.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Gold has been the subject of no less than five customer complaints and was discharged from Morgan Stanley DW in 2004.

In addition to UBS and Morgan Stanley, FINRA reports that Mr. Gold has also been registered with Merrill Lynch in Florida, Advest in Connecticut, and Prudential in New York City.