Advisor Charles Kerker Barred by Regulator Over Borrowing Customer Funds

shutterstock_177792281-300x198The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that financial advisor Charles Kerker (Kerker), formerly employed by Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial) was has been subject to at least one customer complaint and one employment termination for cause during the course of his career.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Westenbarger’s customer complaint alleges that Kerker recommended unsuitable investments among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.

In June 2019 Kerker’s employer, Next Financial, discharged Kerker alleging failure to adequately respond to a compliance inquiry regarding equity transactions in 12 customer accounts. Specifically, the date and time that clients were contacted regarding each transaction, the rationale for the transactions, the suitability analysis conducted for each customer and copies of investment research.

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.

Kerker entered the securities industry in 1985.  From August 1999 through July 2019 Kerker was associated with Next Financial.  Since July 2019 Kerker has been registered with Peak Brokerage Services, LLC out of the firm’s Delmar, New York 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.