Articles Tagged with unsuitability

As reported recently, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has commenced an investigation into the cross-selling activities of several broker dealers in the wake of the Wells Fargo fallout. FINRA’s objective has reportedly been to determine just how much cross selling is taking place (including promotion of products such as credit cards and loans) and what incentives are being provided to employees to engage in the conduct.

A FINRA spokesperson was quoted as saying, ““In light of recent issues related to cross-selling, FINRA is focused on the nature and scope of broker-dealers’ cross-selling activities and whether they are adequately supervising these activities by their registered employees to protect investors.”

Supervision at broker dealers is a very critical aspect of customer service. It is important that brokers and their firms are only promoting and selling products to customers that are appropriate for that customer and in the customer’s best interest. As has been shown by the Wells Fargo disaster, cross-selling incentive programs can compromise that goal by creating a conflict of interest.

Generally speaking, it’s usually not a good thing when when a company is fined for similar conduct multiple times.

Just this month, UBS Financial Services, Inc. submitted a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2013038351701 (AWC) that detailed a $250,000 fine for failures in supervision regarding sales of mutual fund shares to investors.  According to the AWC, for a four year period, from approximately 2009 to 2013, UBS failed to provide sales charge waivers to customers entitled to waivers through rights of reimbursement.  The AWC detailed that this conduct created a violation of FINRA Rule 2010 (Standards of Commercial Honor and Principles of Trade).

Mutual fund class A shares generally require the investor to pay an upfront sales charge, except where the mutual fund waives the charge, such as when the mutual fund is purchased with a right of reimbursement.  The AWC detailed that investors sometimes purchase class A shares with right of reimbursement when they reinvest proceeds from earlier redemptions of Class A shares in the same fund or fund family within a specific time period.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding National Securities Corporation broker Christopher Jones. Mr. Jones was previously licensed through Citigroup and other firms, per industry records.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Jones was recently the subject of two customer disputes.

Mr. Jones’ FINRA records indicate that in 20110, a client alleged “suitability, material misrepresentation, breach of fiduciary duty, omissions, and negligence.” This case was reportedly settled for $24,500.

The investment fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Raymond James Financial Services broker Joseph Amalfitano of Malvern, PA. According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Amalfitano moved to Raymond James after stints at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Amalfitano was recently the subject of two customer complaints since 2008, per FINRA records.

According to his BrokerCheck, in 2012, Mr. Amalfitano was alleged to have “maintained an unsuitable concentration of Bank of America stock” in customers’ accounts. Overconcentration can be dangerous since it has the potential to create higher risk and volatility of an account when compared to a more balanced, diversified portfolio. FINRA records indicate this case was settled.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in speaking with those who invested in AR Global REITs. Industry analysts and consultants believe that investors in a number of AR Global-sponsored real estate investment trusts (REITs) are in danger of having their distributions cut, per InvestmentNews.

Specifically, investors in American Realty Capital Global Trust II, American Realty Capital New York City REIT, American Finance Trust, American Realty Capital Hospitality Trust, American Realty Capital Retail Centers of America, Healthcare Trust, and Realty Finance Trust may be at risk, according to the report.

The problem is said to stem from the MFFO (modified funds from operations a/k/a cash flow) at seven of AR Global’s REITs. The MFFO of these seven funds reportedly failed to match or exceed their distributions. In simple terms, this would mean that the funds failed to take in as much as they were distributing. Such a situation has the potential to mean big trouble for investors including distribution cuts and rapid decline in asset value – i.e., less income and large losses to the principal.

We are pleased to announce that after a six-day long arbitration, our client was awarded his full net out-of-pocket damages of $142,168.00 by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Arbitration Panel.  The story was recently reported by InvestmentNews.  The arbitration panel also assessed all forum fees in the amount of $14,400 against the Respondent Garden State Securities, Inc.

The case was brought against Garden State alleging unsuitable investment recommendations, including over-concentration in Chinese stocks, penny stocks and low-priced securities, as well as leveraged exchange traded funds (ETFs). The claims also centered around allegations of churning and excessive trading. In the end, the Panel found Garden State liable.  Ultimately, broker-dealers must be held responsible for the recommendations their brokers make.

Our client’s case exemplifies many of the issues facing senior-aged investors today. Many seniors find themselves in situations where they have saved their entire lives for retirement and are seeking a financial professional to help guide them and preserve their nest egg. There is usually a lot of trust in the financial advisor-client relationship. But that trust can be easily and quickly abused. As they grow older, people generally became more conservative, downsizing and limiting expenses. Yet, all-too-frequently brokers recommend more speculative investments to their aging customers – for the broker’s own purposes (commonly higher commissions and fees). Such a situation is not appropriate nor permissible.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Catherine A. Sheridan.  Since April 2015, Ms. Sheridan has been employed and registered with Race Rock Capital, LLC, a broker-dealer, working out of the Boston, Massachusetts office, according to her publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Per her BrokerCheck report, Ms. Sheridan was previously employed by North South Capital, LLC from 2010 to 2015, Sound Securities, LLC from 2007 to 2010 and Tradition Asiel Securities, Inc. from 2004 to 2007.

Ms. Sheridan was fined and suspended for two months from association with any FINRA member broker-dealer by FINRA according to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent No. 2015044475901 (AWC).  According to the AWC, Ms. Sheridan violated Article V, Section 2(c) of FINRA’s By-Laws and FINRA Rules 1122 and 2010 for failing to timely file amendments to her U-4 to report tax liens.  According to the AWC, Ms. Sheridan resigned from North South Capital, LLC two days after she amended her U-4 to report a tax lien.  According to FINRA BrokerCheck records, Ms. Sheridan’s suspension started on May 16, 2016 and ends on July 15, 2016.

The investment and securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding Wells Fargo financial advisor Robert Ross.  According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Ross recently moved to Wells Fargo after spending 30 years at Merrill Lynch.

Mr. Ross was recently the subject of a customer complaint alleging unsuitable investment recommendations and excessive trading, per FINRA records.  BrokerCheck indicates that an arbitration related to this customer complaint is presently pending.

Excessive trading, also known as churning, in the industry can be disastrous for a portfolio.  When a broker trades an account excessively, large amounts of commissions and fees may be generated, if the account is commission based (as opposed to fee based).  Churning is a classic example of a broker putting his or her own monetary gain above the best interests of his or her customer.

The securities fraud attorneys at Malecki Law are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints against stockbroker Richard William Martin.  Mr. Martin was most recently employed and registered from July 2009 to July 2015 with G.F. Investment Services, LLC from an office in Penang, Malaysia, according to his publicly available BrokerCheck, as maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).  According to BrokerCheck records, Mr. Martin was permitted to resign amid allegations concerning FINRA’s Case No. 20150445876 which “appears to be centered around ETF trades.”

According to the FINRA Complaint, Mr. Martin violated FINRA Rules 2310 and 2111 related to suitability of recommendations by “not having a reasonable basis to recommend, for long-term holding, non-traditional exchange traded funds (‘Non-traditional ETFs’).”  The FINRA Complaint details that Mr. Martin believed the world economy was “on the precipice of catastrophe and his customers should invest and hold Non-traditional ETFs to hedge against the impending catastrophe.”

The FINRA Complaint detailed that ETF shares generally represent an interest in a portfolio of securities that tracks an underlying benchmark or index, such as the S&P 500.  Non-traditional ETFs differ in that they are more complex investment products that rely on strategies, such as interest rate swap agreements, futures contract, and other derivative instruments, to attempt to return a multiple and/or inverse of an underlying benchmark.  This would generally make non-traditional ETFs subject to more risk, and therefore may not be suitable for certain investors.

Malecki Law’s team of investment attorneys are interested in hearing from investors who have complaints regarding long-time Merrill Lynch Financial Advisor Paul F. Kane.

According to his BrokerCheck report maintained by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”), Mr. Kane is currently the subject of a pending customer dispute.  The allegations include unsuitable investment recommendations, excessive trading and misrepresentation and omission of material facts, per FINRA.   According to the disclosures on Mr. Kane’s BrokerCheck, the customer is requesting $1.1 million in damages.

Excessive trading, also known as churning in the industry, can be disastrous for a portfolio.  When a broker trades an account excessively, large amounts of commissions and fees may be generated, if the account is commission based (as opposed to fee based).  Churning is a classic example of a broker putting his or her own monetary gain above the best interests of his or her customer.