The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Advisor Michael Lackwood (Lackwood), currently employed by Spring Delta Asset Management, LLC (Spring Delta) has been subject to at least one customer complaint and one employment termination for cause during the course of his career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Lackwood’s customer complaint alleges that Lackwood recommended unsuitable investments in various investments including allegations involving risky and speculative securities, among other allegations of misconduct relating to the handling of their accounts.
In May 2019, a customer complained that Lackwood violated the securities laws by alleging that Lackwood did not follow the customer’s instructions to sell. The complaint further alleged that Lackwood engaged in unsuitable investment advice, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, and fraud. Lastly, the complaint alleged that Lackwood engaged in misrepresentations related to risky and speculative securities. The claim settled in the amount of $115,000.
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.
Lackwood entered the securities industry in 2004. Lackwood was a Registered Broker for most of his career and recently became an Investment Adviser. Since August 2020, Lackwood has been associated with Spring Delta out of the firm’s New York, NY 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.