According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Robert Hoffmann (Hoffmann), formerly associated with Thurston, Springer, Miller, Herd & Titak, Inc. (Thurston, Springer), has been subject to two customer complaints, one regulatory action, and one tax lien. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in January 2017 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Hoffmann made unsuitable investments, unauthorized trading, and churning among other claims. The claim seeks $3,200,000 in damages and is currently pending.
In September 2017, FINRA sanctioned Hoffmann stated that Hoffmann consented to the sanctions and to the entry of findings that he willfully failed to amend his Form U4 to timely disclose an unsatisfied Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tax lien filed against him. In addition, there is one tax lien disclosed on Hoffmann’s report for $106,991 filed in December 2014. Tax liens and judgements are material information for an investor to consider for several reasons. A broker with large unpaid debts may be tempted to recommend high commission products and services to satisfy their personal debts. In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is material in a customer’s decision to retain the advisor’s services.
Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client. In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements. First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. 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.
The number of complaints against Hoffmann are unusual compared to his peers. According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters. However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher. Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.
Hoffmann entered the securities industry in 1999. From July 2006 until March 2017 Hoffmann was registered with Woodbury Financial Services, Inc. From April 2017 until May 2017 Hoffmann has been registered with Thurston, Springer out of the firm’s Indianapolis, Indiana office location.
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.