Broker Spotlight: Customer Complaints Against PHX Financial Broker Johnathan McHale

shutterstock_189006551The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Johnathan McHale (McHale). According to BrokerCheck records there are at least 6 customer complaints, one employment separation for cause, and 6 judgments or liens that have been filed against McHale. The most recent customer complaint against McHale filed in April 2014 alleges that McHale breached his fiduciary duty, negligence, and misrepresentations in the handling of the customer’s account leading to $108,000 in damages. The claim was settled for $14,995. In August 2012, another client alleged that McHale engaged in unsuitable investments leading to $43,000 in damages. The claim was denied.

In May 2014, National Securities Corporation terminated McHale alleging that he violated the firm’s policy by using his personal email address for business correspondence. In addition, McHale has 6 judgements. One tax lien filed in March 2011 for $34,598. Substantial judgements and liens on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services. 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

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.

The number of customer complaints against McHale is high relative to his peers. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must publicly disclose certain types of reportable events on their CRD including but not limited to customer complaints. In addition to disclosing client disputes brokers must divulge IRS tax liens, judgments, and criminal matters. However, FINRA’s records are not always complete according to a Wall Street Journal story that checked with 26 state regulators and found that at least 38,400 brokers had regulatory or financial red flags such as a personal bankruptcy that showed up in state records but not on BrokerCheck. More disturbing is the fact that 19,000 out of those 38,400 brokers had spotless BrokerCheck records.

McHale entered the securities industry in 2003. From June 2007, until June 2013, McHale was associated with John Thomas Financial. From June 2013 until June 2014, McHale was associated with National Securities Corporation. Finally, since May 2014, McHale has been associated with PHX Financial, Inc. out of the firm’s New York, New York office location.

The investment fraud attorneys at Gana LLP represent investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts. The majority of these claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.