The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that broker Michael Anthony Fahsholtz (Fahsholtz), most recently employed by Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Inc. (Stifel) has been subject to at least twelve customer complaints during the course of his career. Fahsholtz is no longer registered as a broker. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Fahsholtz’s customer complaints alleges that Fahsholtz recommended unsuitable investments in various investments including allegations involving debt-corporate securities, unit investment trusts, and variable annuities, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.
In September 2021, a customer complained that Fahsholtz violated the securities laws by alleging that Fahsholtz engaged in unsuitable investment advice, and misrepresentations related to the risks of the recommended investments. The claim alleges $255,791 in damages and is currently pending.
In February 2021, a customer complained that Fahsholtz violated the securities laws by alleging that Fahsholtz engaged in unsuitable investment advice, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. Additionally, the customer alleges that Fahsholtz violated the Securities Act of Washington and FINRA Rule 3110. The damage amount requested was $106,000. The claim settled in the amount of $25,000.
In December 2020, a customer complained that Fahsholtz violated the securities laws by alleging that Fahsholtz purchase inappropriate securities for the customer, including stocks, bonds, and UITs. The damage amount requested was $40,000. The claim settled in the amount of $7,500.
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 shown 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.
Fahsholtz entered the securities industry in 1990. Fahsholtz was most recently associated with Stifel out of the firm’s Wenatchee, WA office location. Fahsholtz was associated with Stifel from March 2011 through August 2020. He is no longer registered as a broker.
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.