Our firm is investigating claims made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) when the regulator barred broker Ken Balser (Balser). According to FINRA settlement, Balser consented to sanctions that he refused to appear for testimony and provide documents and information to FINRA concerning allegations that he engaged in private securities transactions.
In July 2016, Cetera Advisors LLC (Cetera) discharged Balser for cause alleging that Balser engaged in private securities transactions.
According to Balser’s brokercheck records Balser has at least three disclosed outside business activities. These activities include a d/b/a Secure Wealth Management. In addition, Balser disclosed a fixed insurance business and Dave Ramsey Radio Show Sponsor. 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.
Balser entered the securities industry in 1999. From March 2012 through October 2013 Balser was associated with LPL Financial LLC. Thereafter, from October 2013 through July 2016 Balser was registered with Cetera out of the firm’s Colorado Springs, Colorado 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.