Broker Investigation: Customer Complaints Against Advisor William Baumner

shutterstock_179465345The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker William Baumner (Baumner).  According to BrokerCheck records Baumner has been subject to at least seven customer complaints and five judgements or liens.  The customer complaints against Baumner allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, and misrepresentations among other claims.   According to the disclosures, many of the complaints involve private companies, private placements, penny stocks, and one complaint mentions a recommendation for CTX Virtual.

In December 2015 a customer filed a complaint alleging $100,000 in damage stemming from misrepresentations for a stock between February 2014 and January 2016.  The complaint has been denied.  Baumner has disclosed several large tax liens including a $5,825 lien in January 2015.  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 events listed on Baumner 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.

Baumner entered the securities industry in 1993.  Since March 2010 Baumner has been associated with Buckman, Buckman & Reid, Inc. out of the firm’s Boca Raton, 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.