According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Farrukh Kazmi (Kazmi), currently employed by Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel Fisher) has been subject to one customer complaint, two terminations for cause, one financial disclosures, and one regulatory complaint. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in August 2018 Kazmi was subject to a regulatory complaint by FINRA alleging a number of securities laws violations.
The FINRA complaint alleged that Kazmi regularly used instant messaging and text messaging to communicate with his member firm’s customers to conduct securities business and ignored Berthel Fisher’s explicit instruction that he discontinue using instant messaging to communicate with his customers. FINRA also claims that Kazmi did not inform his firm that he used text messaging or instant messaging to conduct securities business, nor did he provide copies of these communications to the firm. The complaint further alleges that Kazmi repeatedly made false statements to Berthel Fisher and to FINRA about using instant messaging to conduct securities business.
FINRA is also claiming that Kazmi exercised discretion on hundreds of occasions when placing trades in the accounts of customers, without prior written authorization from the customers or written approval from his firm. FINRA also alleges that Kazmi is falsely denying exercising discretion in customer accounts in statements to both Berthel Fisher and FINRA.
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.
Kazmi entered the securities industry in 1997. Since January 2010 Kazmi has been registered with Berthel Fisher out of the firm’s Moorestown, New Jersey 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.