Customers File Complaints Against Bruce Slater Involving REITs, Oil and Gas, and Variable Annuities

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.

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.

Slater entered the securities industry in 1986.  From 1997 through March 2016 Slater was associated with Transamerica Financial Advisors, Inc.  Since March 2016, Slater has been associated with SagePoint Financial, Inc. out of the firm’s Northville, Michigan office location.

The number of events listed on Slater’s 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.

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.