The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker Stephen Campbell (Campbell) concerning allegations that the broker engaged in churning in a client account. Campbell has been a broker since 1978. From November 12, 2004 through November 12, 2013, Campbell was registered with Oppenheimer & Co., Inc. (Oppenheimer).
Investment churning is trading activity characterized by purchasing and selling activity that is excessive and serves no practical purpose for the investor. Brokers engage in churning solely to generate commissions without regard for the client’s interests. In order to establish a churning claim the investor must show that the trading was first excessive and second that the broker had control over the investment strategy. 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.
In Campbell’s case, FINRA found that one of his customers was a 55 year old single mother who initially opened an account with Campbell in 2000. FINRA alleged that from January 2009, through September 2011, while exercising control over her accounts, Campbell excessively and unsuitable traded her accounts inconsistently with her investment objectives, financial situation and needs. FINRA determined that the trading activity resulted in an annualized turnover ratio of 15 and an annualized cost-to-equity ratio of 59% in her IRA account, and an annualized turnover ratio of 21 and an annualized cost-to-equity ratio of 120% in her individual account. During this period, FINRA determined that Campbell’s improper trading resulted in a collective loss of approximately $62,000, while generating total gross commissions of approximately $64,000.
The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors who were are the victims of churning and excessive trading by the brokers. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.