The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Richard Foerster Reynolds (Reynolds), currently employed by SW Financial has been subject to at least 13 customer complaints during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Reynolds’ customer complaints alleges that Reynolds recommended unsuitable investments in various investments, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts, including unauthorized trading.
In April 2019, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds charged unauthorized commissions. The damage amount requested was $8,000. The claim settled in the amount of $4,000.
In December 2018, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds engaged in negligence and negligent supervision. The damage amount requested was $65,000. The claim settled in the amount of $14,500.
In November 2018, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds engaged in statutory and common law fraud, misrepresentation, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The damage amount requested was $56,000. The claim settled in the amount of $14,999.99.
In May 2018, a customer complained that Reynolds violated the securities laws by alleging that Reynolds engaged in churning, improper use of margin, unsuitability, and charged high commissions.. The damage amount requested was $503,828.39. The claim settled in the amount of $150,000.
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.
When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time. Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities. This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades. Churning is considered a species of securities fraud. The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions. A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements. Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim. These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.
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 shown 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.
Reynolds entered the securities industry in 1991. Since April 2021, Reynolds has been associated with SW Financial out of the firm’s Melville, 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.