According to BrokerCheck records former financial advisor James Kujawski (Kujawski), currently employed by Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise Financial) has been subject to at least seven customer complaints, one employment termination for cause, and one regulatory action. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), many of the complaints against Kujawski concern allegations of unsuitable investments and material misrepresentations concerning investments being recommended.
In February 2018 Kujawski was terminated by UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS) after the firm claimed that Kujawski’s continued failure to disclose some of his outside business activities/outside business investments was in violation of firm policies.
Thereafter, in August 2018 FINRA brought a regulatory action against Kujawski which Kujawski consented to the findings that he engaged in a private securities transaction by facilitating the repurchase of a call option between two individuals, neither of whom were customers at his member firm. FINRA found that Kujawski’s participation included the repurchase of the option by introducing a commercial lender to participate in the transaction, attending meetings with the parties, reviewing draft sale contracts and providing comments, and accepting $73,444.90 in compensation for his participation. Kujawski was suspended for four months and agreed to pay financial penalties.
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.
Kujawski entered the securities industry in 1990. From February 2009 until March 2018 Kujawski was associated with UBS. Since March 2018 Kujawski has been registered with Ameriprise Financial out of the firm’s Annapolis, Maryland 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.