Former Ameriprise Advisor Jack McBride Discharged Over Soliciting Leveraged ETFs

shutterstock_186468539According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Jack McBride (McBride) has been the subject of at least 4 customer complaints over the course of his career. Customers have filed to recent complaints against McBride alleging that the broker made unsuitable investments in leveraged ETFs and the use of margin. McBride has been registered with FINRA since 1994. From that time until August 2014, McBride was registered with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise). In August 2014, Ameriprise discharged McBride claiming that the broker violated the company’s policies relating to making a settlement and for soliciting prohibited securities.

All advisers have a fundamental responsibility to deal fairly with investors including making suitable investment recommendations. Part of the suitability requirement is that the broker must have a reasonable basis to believe, based on appropriate research and diligence, that all recommendations are suitable for at least some investors. Thus, the product or investment strategy being recommended must be appropriate for at least some investors and the advisers must convey the potential risks and rewards before bringing it to an investor’s attention.

In the case of Non-Traditional ETFs, these products contain drastically different risk qualities from traditional ETFs that most investors and many brokers are not aware of. While traditional ETFs simply seek to mirror an index or benchmark, Non-Traditional ETFs use a combination of derivatives instruments and debt to multiply returns on underlining assets, often attempting to generate 2 to 3 times the return of the underlining asset class. Non-Traditional ETFs can also be used to return the inverse or the opposite result of the return of the benchmark.

In addition, regular ETFs can be held for long term trading, but Non-Traditional ETFs are generally designed to be used only for short term trading because the use of leverage effects funds’ returns dramatically over longer periods of time. Thus, if an investor has long-term investment goals Non-Traditional ETFs are not appropriate investment vehicles. The risks of holding Non-Traditional ETFs over the long term can be seen by examining the Dow Jones U.S. Oil & Gas Index from December 1, 2008 and April 30, 2009, which gained two percent while the ProShares Ultra Oil and Gas, a fund seeking to deliver twice the index’s daily return fell six percent. The inverse ETF Fund, the ProShares UltraShort Oil and Gas, seeks to deliver twice the inverse of the index’s daily return fell by 26 percent over the same period.

Because of these risks, The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned that most Non-Traditional ETFs reset daily and FINRA has stated that Non-Traditional ETFs are typically not suitable for most retail investors. Consequently these funds typically have very limited uses and in many cases are completely inappropriate for retail investors. Increasingly, brokerage firms are prohibiting the solicitation of these investments to its customers due to suitability concerns.

The number of complaints made by investors against McBride is relatively large by industry standards. According to InvestmentNews, only about 12% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records. Brokers must disclose different types of events, not necessarily all of which are customer complaints. These disclosures can include IRS tax liens, judgments, and even criminal matters.

Investors who have suffered losses may be able recover their losses through securities arbitration. The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are experienced in representing investors in cases of selling away and brokerage firm’s failure to supervise their representatives. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.

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