According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Frederick Houck (Houck), formerly associated with Freedom Investors Corp. (Freedom Investors), has been subject to one customer complaint, six tax liens or judgments, and one FINRA sanction. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Houck has been accused by a customer of churning, negligence, excessive trading, and breach of fiduciary duty from August 2011 to January 2016 causing $150,000 in damages. The claim is currently pending.
In August 2017 FINRA sanctioned Houck alleging that Houck exercised discretion in executing 491 transactions in the accounts of two customers as part of a recommended investment strategy without obtaining prior written authorization to exercise discretion and without his member firm having approved these accounts for discretionary trading.
Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. All brokers are under an obligation to first discuss trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b). These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature because no disclosure could be more important to an investor than to be made aware that a trade will take place. Often times, brokers engage in unauthorized trading as part of an attempt to churn or excessively trade a client’s account.
The number of complaints against Houck 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.
Houck entered the securities industry in 2003. From April 2007 until June 2016 Houck was associated with Freedom Investors out of the firm’s Brookfield, Wisconsin office location.
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.