Broker Investigation: Ameriprise Financial Broker William Utanski

shutterstock_20354398The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker William Utanski (Utanski). According to BrokerCheck records Utanski is subject to three customer complaints. The customer complaints against Utanski allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments and churning (excessive trading) among other claims.   The claims appear to largely relate to allegations regarding the inappropriate sale of Dendreon Corporation stock.

One claim that was filed in October 2015 claimed that Utanski made unsuitable investment recommendations in 2011, that included closed-end funds and Dendreon stock. The customer also allege Utanski churned their account suffered compensatory damages of $200,000. The claim is currently pending.

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 events listed on Utanski brokercheck 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.

Utanski entered the securities industry in 1995. Since 2002 Utanski has been registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. out of the firm’s Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 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.