Our firm is investigating claims made by Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated (Stifel Nicolaus) when the firm terminated broker Jon Schmidhammer (Schmidhammer). According to the firm, Schmidhammer was discharged in July 2016 after allegation were made that Schmidhammer resigned after his arrest for allegedly stealing money from a client.
According to Schmidhammer’s brokercheck records Schmidhammer has no disclosed outside business activities. The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”. Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities.
In October 2016 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Schmidhammer engaged in unsuitable management of their accounts, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and conversion. The complaint alleges damages of $500,000. The claim is currently pending.
Schmidhammer entered the securities industry in 1986. From March 2006 through May 2009 Schmidhammer was associated with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated. Thereafter, from May 2009 until August 2016, Schmidhammer was registered with Stifel Nicolaus out of the firm’s Dublin, Ohio office location.
In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though when these incidents occur the brokerage firm claims ignorance of their advisor’s activities the firm is obligated under the FINRA rules to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away misconduct often occurs where brokerage firms either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.
In cases of selling away the investor is unaware that the advisor’s investments are improper. In many of these cases the investor will not learn that the broker’s activities were wrongful until after the investment scheme is publicized, the broker is fired or charged by law enforcement, or stops returning client calls altogether.
The investment fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have represented hundreds of investors in securities related disputes including in cases of selling away and brokerage firms failure to supervise their representatives. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.