Articles Tagged with variable annuities

shutterstock_185901806-300x200Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Bryon Martinsen (Martinsen) currently associated with Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus) alleging unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, misrepresentations, and fraud among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Martinsen has been subject to five customer complaints, one judgment or lien, and one employment termination for cause.  Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other alternative investments.

Our firm has experience representing investment fraud victims with these investments against Centaurus.  See Gana LLP Wins Arbitration Award On Behalf of Client Against Centaurus Financial.  In that case, the Claimant alleged that the broker involved invested over $2,000,000 in exclusively high cost products and 50% of those investments were in alternative investments such as private placements, oil and gas partnerships, and REITs.  The other 50% was invested in variable and equity-indexed annuities.  Award Can Be Found Here.

All of these investments come with high costs and have historically underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed at all.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them and have created a large market for a failed product.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money in these illiquid investments until many years after investing.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_70999552Our firm’s investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Joseph Zastrow (Zastrow) currently associated with Thrivent Investment Management Inc. (Thrivent) alleging unsuitable recommendations to invest in variable products such as variable annuities, equity indexed annuities, and variable life insurance.  According to brokercheck records Zastrow has been subject to six customer complaints and one criminal matter.

In August 2016 a customer alleged that Zastrow failed to provide the customer with disclosures about the variable annuity contract or provide suitability information in July 2015.  The customer also alleged that his signature was forged on documents dated May 2015. The customer claimed $2,956.67 in damages and was granted $2,861.98.

Variable annuities and equity indexed annuities are complex financial and insurance products.  In fact, recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing.  Essentially, a variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you.  The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen.  The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

However, the benefits of variable annuities are often outweighed by the terms of the contract that include exorbitant expenses such as surrender charges, mortality and expense charges, management fees, market-related risks, and rider costs.

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shutterstock_54385804Our investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against David White (White) currently associated with Centaurus Financial, Inc. (Centaurus) alleging unsuitable investments and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  According to brokercheck records White has been subject to eleven customer complaints.  Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs) and other alternative investments.

Our firm has experience representing investment fraud victims with these investments against Centaurus.  See Gana LLP Wins Arbitration Award On Behalf of Client Against Centaurus Financial.  In that case, the Claimant alleged that the broker involved invested over $2,000,000 in exclusively high cost products and 50% of those investments were in alternative investments such as private placements, oil and gas partnerships, and REITs.  The other 50% was invested in variable and equity-indexed annuities.  The panel found that “the investments Hashemian recommended while at Centaurus were not suitable and in [Claimant’s] best interests. [Claimant] also provided sufficient evidence to meet her burden of proof to support her allegations in her Statement of Claim that the actions by Hashemian, for which Centaurus is responsible, constitute fraudulent and negligently made material misrepresentations and omitted material information in the sale of the investments to [Claimant].”  Award Can Be Found Here.

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shutterstock_102757574Our firm’s investment attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Alan Thomilson (Thomilson) currently associated with Lincoln Financial Securities Corporation (Lincoln Financial) alleging unsuitable recommendations to invest in variable products such as variable annuities, equity indexed annuities, and variable life insurance.  According to brokercheck records Thomilson has been subject to six customer complaints and one criminal matter.

In March 2015 a customer alleged that Thomilson misrepresented a recommendation to replace an existing variable annuity with an equity indexed annuity and that the recommendation was not suitable causing $125,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

Variable annuities and equity indexed annuities are complex financial and insurance products.  In fact, recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing.  Essentially, a variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you.  The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen.  The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

However, the benefits of variable annuities are often outweighed by the terms of the contract that include exorbitant expenses such as surrender charges, mortality and expense charges, management fees, market-related risks, and rider costs.

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shutterstock_174858983Our investment attorneys are interested in speaking with investors who may have been sold inappropriate alternative investments by Cheryl Kitashima (Kitashima).  Customers have filed complaints with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Kitashima alleging unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, common law fraud, and misrepresentations among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Kitashima has been subject to five customer complaints.  Some of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs), variable annuities, oil and gas investments, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and have historically underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed at all.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them and have created a large market for a failed product.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money in these illiquid investments until many years after investing.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_94127350The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it has fined eight brokerage a total of $6.2 million for failing to supervise sales of variable annuities (VAs).  Five of the firms were required to pay more than $6 million to customers who purchased L-share variable annuities that came with potentially incompatible, complex and expensive long-term minimum-income and withdrawal riders.

FINRA’s enforcement actions were against the following firms.

  • VOYA Financial Advisors Inc. – fined $2.75 million.
  • Cetera Advisor Networks LLC – fined $750,000.
  • Cetera Financial Specialists LLC – fined $350,000.
  • First Allied Securities, Inc. – fined $950,000.
  • Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. – fined $500,000.
  • VSR Financial Services, Inc. – fined $400,000.
  • Kestra Investment Services, LLC – fined $475,000.
  • FTB Advisors, Inc. – fined $250,000.

FINRA ordered the firms to pay the following to investors.

The L-share VAs are complex investment products that combine insurance and investment features designed for short-term investors willing to pay higher fees in exchange for shorter surrender periods.  L-shares also have the potential to pay greater commissions to brokers than traditional share classes.

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shutterstock_132317306The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Mark Wesley (Wesley) alleging unsuitable investments, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Wesley has been subject to six customer complaints.  Some of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs), oil and gas private placements, variable annuities, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other alternative investments.

In June 2016, Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) permitted Wesley to resign alleging that he was under suspension for compliance policy violations related to unauthorized trading, use of discretion in a non-discretionary account, supervision of staff and responding to supervision.

In addition, Wesley has been subject to five tax liens totaling millions of dollars.  A broker’s inability to handle their personal finances has also been found to be relevant in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.

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shutterstock_27786601The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating a customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Bruce Slater (Slater).  According to BrokerCheck records Slater has been subject to at least four customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Slater alleges securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including oil and gas partnerships – including Ridgewood Energy-, non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), variable annuities, and other alternative investments.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and other alternative investments are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

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shutterstock_159036452The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Daniel Dunn (Dunn).  According to BrokerCheck records Dunn has been subject to at least five customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Dunn allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, and misrepresentations among other claims.   Many of the complaints involve direct participation products (DPPs) and private placements including ICON Leasing, variable annuities, and tenant-in-common trusts (TICs).

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like variable annuities, ICON, and other DPPs are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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shutterstock_189006551The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Scott Goldman (Goldman).  According to BrokerCheck records Goldman has been subject to at least six customer complaints.  The customer complaints against Goldman allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, failure to supervise, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.  Some of the claims involve variable annuity and variable universal life insurance products.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products.  All of these investments come with high costs and historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds.  For example, products like variable annuities are only appropriate for a narrow band of investors under certain conditions due to the high costs, illiquidity, and huge redemption charges of the products.  However, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  Further, investor often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.  In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  Second, the broker then must match the investment as being appropriate for the customer’s specific investment needs and objectives such as the client’s retirement status, long or short term goals, age, disability, income needs, or any other relevant factor.

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