According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Coleman Devlin (Devlin), formerly associated with IFS Securities (IFS), has been subject to 14 customer complaints. In addition, Devlin has been subject to two regulatory matters and has been terminated by two firms for cause. In June 2016 Devlin was discharged from Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated (Stifel, Nicolaus) on allegations of unauthorized trading. Thereafter, The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) conducted its own investigation of Devlin’s trading activities.
In October 2017, FINRA found that Devlin effected discretionary trades in five customer accounts without obtaining prior written authorization from the customers and without acceptance of the accounts as discretionary by his member firm.
Devlin has also been subject to numerous customer complaints over the course of his career. The most recent case was filed in November 2017 and alleged unsuitable investments. The customer seeks $600,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.
In May 2017 another customer filed a complaint alleging that Devlin made unsuitable and unauthorized investments from September 2013 through June 2016. The claim was settled for $95,000.
Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Unauthorized trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior consent from the investor. All brokers, who do not have discretionary authority to trade an account, are under an obligation to first discuss trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b). Further, subsequent disclosure of the trades does not cure the violation. Unauthorized trading is a type of investment fraud because the SEC has found that no disclosure could be more important and material to an investor than to be made aware that trading is taking place. Unauthorized trading is often a gateway violation to other securities violations including churning, unsuitable investments, and excessive use of margin.
The number of complaints against Devlin are unusual compared to his peers. According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters. However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher. Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.
Devlin entered the securities industry in 1994. From June 2007 until July 2016 Devlin was registered with Stifel, Nicolaus. From July 2016 through February 2017 Devlin was associated with IFS Securities out of the firm’s Atlanta, Georgia office location.
At Gana LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts. Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.