Broker Spotlight: Shawn Burns of Salomon Whitney

shutterstock_71403175The law offices of Gana LLP are investigating a string of customer complaints against broker Shawn Burns (Burns) currently registered Salomon Whitney LLC (Salomon). According to The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck system, the customer complaints primarily allege unauthorized trading, failure to execute, suitability, misrepresentation, fraud, churning, and breach of fiduciary duty.

Burns has been in the industry since 1999. In only 15 years Burns has been employed by 10 different firms. After leaving Westrock Advisors, Inc. in May 2007, Burns became registered with J.P Turner & Company, L.L.C. until June 2009. From June 2009, until July 2011, Burns was registered with First Midwest Securities, Inc. Thereafter, Burns was registered with Salomon until August 2012. Then Burns became associated with Cape Securities Inc. until April 2014 before again going back to Salomon where he is currently registered.

Burns has had 12 customer complaints filed against him during his career, one termination, and five judgments or liens. These statistics are troubling because so many customer complaints are rare. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. These disclosures do not necessarily have to include customer complaints but can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters. The number of brokers with multiple customer complaints is far smaller.

The most recent complaints filed concerning Burns in 2014 allege that Burns practiced high-pressure sales tactics, churned customer accounts, and recommended unsuitable trades. Burns’ termination concerns allegations of unauthorized trades in a customer’s account and failure to follow instructions. Burns contends that he had no knowledge of any unauthorized trades and that the firm, Murphy & Durieu terminated him in order to avoid paying a bonus allegedly owed to Burns.

In addition, Burns has been hit with over $70,000 in tax liens over the past five years. A broker with significant debts is a potential red flag that needs to be monitored because the broker has motive and incentive to engage in high commission generating activity to cover the debts. Also a broker who cannot manage their own finances calls into question their ability to handle others.

Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of unsuitable investments. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.