Broker Timothy O’Brien Sanctioned By FINRA Over Unauthorized Trade

shutterstock_186471755-300x200According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor Timothy O’Brien (O’Brien), formerly employed by Feltl & Company has been subject to numerous disclosures including at least six customer complaints, two criminal matters, four judgement or tax liens, and regulatory complaints during the course of his career.  O’Brien customer complaints alleges that O’Brien recommended unsuitable investments, made misrepresentations, and overconcentrated investments relating to the handling of client accounts.

In November 2020 O’Brien consented to FINRA findings and sanctions that he placed unauthorized trades in a customer’s account. FINRA found that O’Brien sold a limited partnership position in the customer’s account and purchased Class A shares of a mutual fund. FINRA found that O’Brien then attempted to call the customer to discuss the trades but did not reach her before executing the transactions.

In July 2020 a customer complained that O’Brien violated the securities laws by alleging that O’Brien made unsuitable investments, over concentration, and misrepresentation resulting in excessive losses in the account.  The claim alleged $450,000 in damages and settled for $350,000.

O’Brien has several large tax liens.  Such disclosures on a broker’s CRD can be a red flag that the broker may be influenced to engage in high commission activity in order to satisfy personal debts.  In addition, a broker’s inability to manage their own finances is relevant in a customer’s decision to use their services.

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.

O’Brien entered the securities industry in 1983.  From May 2012 through August 2020 O’Brien was registered with Feltl & Company out of the firm’s Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota 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.

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