According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Stephen Carver (Carver), formerly employed by Lifemark Securities Corp. (Lifemark Securities) and Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera Advisors) has been subject to at least two customer complaints, one regulatory complaint, three employment terminations for cause, and three tax liens. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), most of Carver’s customer complaints allege that Carver made unsuitable recommendations in a variety of securities including alternative investments such as REITs.
In January 2019 FINRA brought a complaint against Carver alleging that he willfully failed to timely amend his Form U4 to disclose three unsatisfied Internal Revenue Service tax liens totaling approximately $92,000 that were filed against him. FINRA claims that Carver also falsely attested to his member firm on an annual compliance questionnaire that he was in compliance with FINRA’s Form U4 disclosure requirements. The regulatory complaint is currently pending.
In October 2018 a customer brought a complaint against Carver alleging the broker violated the securities laws by committing elder abuse. The claim alleged $9.3 million in damages and is currently pending.
In September 2017 Cetera Advisors discharged Carver claiming that he violated firm policy by not disclosing gifts from a client.
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.
Carver entered the securities industry in 1992. From November 2010 until September 2017 Carver was associated with Cetera Advisors. From November 2017 until December 2018 Carver was registered with Lifemark Securities out of the firm’s Peroria, Illionis 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.