Advisor Brian Lockett Suspended By Regulator; Subject to Multiple Client Complaints

shutterstock_157506896-300x300The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Brian Lockett (Lockett), formerly employed by Independent Financial Group, LLC (Independent Financial) has been subject to at least nine customer complaints and one regulatory action during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Lockett’s customer complaint alleges that Lockett recommended unsuitable investments among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In November 2019 FINRA brought a regulatory action against Lockett that he settled consenting to findings that he participated in a private securities transaction without providing prior written notice to his member firm. FINRA found that one of Lockett’s customers invested a total of $50,000 in a private placement offering and that Lockett participated in the transaction by introducing the transaction to the customer, summarizing the reasons he liked the investment, meeting with the customer to review and sign the paperwork and causing the paperwork to be submitted. FINRA found that Lockett did not receive compensation for his participation in the transaction and that Lockett attempted to conceal his role in the transaction by suggesting to the customer that the customer communicate about the transaction with Lockett in the future via Lockett’s personal email address. According to FINRA, after the customer complained to the firm, it entered into a settlement to resolve the complaint.

Brokers are required under the securities laws to treat their clients fairly.  This obligation includes the duties to disclose material risks of the investments they recommend and to present products, particularly complex or confusing products, in a fair and balanced manner that allows the client to evaluate the recommendation.  Another important obligation advisors have is to make only suitable recommendations for investments to the client.  There are many investments that are not appropriate for the majority of investors or for certain investors given their risk tolerance, age, and other factors.  Advisors should not present these investment options to clients.  There are two screens that advisors must employ to determine whether an investment is suitable for a client.  First, there must be a reasonable basis for the recommendation – meaning that the product has been investigated and due diligence conducted into the investment’s features, benefits, risks, and other relevant factors.  The advisor must conclude that the investment is suitable for at least some investors and some securities may be suitable for no one.  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.

According to newsources, a study revealed that 7.3% of financial advisors had a customer complaint on their record when records from 2005 to 2015 were examined.  Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their BrokerCheck reports that include customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, terminations, and criminal cases.  In addition, research has show a disturbing pattern with troublesome brokers where brokers with high numbers of customer complaints are not kicked out of the industry but instead these brokers are sifted to lower quality brokerage firms with loose hiring practices and higher rates of customer complaints.  These lower quality firms may average brokers with five times as many complaints as the industry average.

Lockett entered the securities industry in 2002.  Since November 2013 Lockett has been registered with Independent Financial out of the firm’s Lynnwood, Washington office location.

Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation.  At Gana Weinstein 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.