According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Richard Bernstein (Bernstein), currently employed by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC (Wells Fargo) has been subject to at least eight customer complaints during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Bernstein’s customer complaints allege that Bernstein recommended unsuitable investments and securities among other allegations.
In February 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Bernstein violated the securities laws by, among other things, that the client is seeking at least $53,000.00 in damage and claims that from February 2013 to July 2015 the advisor made unauthorized trades which conflicted with the client’s stated investment goals. The claim is currently pending
In January 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Bernstein violated the securities laws by, among other things, that from 2015 through 2016 the advisor made unsuitable investments. The claim is currently pending.
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.
Bernstein entered the securities industry in 1983. From April 2009 through July 2015 Bernstein was associated with Morgan Stanley. Since July 2015 Bernstein has been associated with Wells Fargo out of the firm’s Los Angeles, California 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.