According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Jerry McCutchen (McCutchen) has been the subject of at least 15 customer complaints and one judgment or lien. The customer complaints against McCutchen allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, negligence, and misrepresentations among other claims.
The claims against McCutchen involve various investments including equipment leasing, non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs), and variable annuities. We have written many times about the investing dangers of these products. One quality all of these investments have in common is the fact that they come with high commissions for the broker and low probability of success for the client. Our firm has written numerous times about investor losses in these programs such as equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. The costs and fees associated with all of these investments cause the security to be so costly that significant returns are virtual impossibility. Yet, investors are in no way compensated for the additional risks of these products.
In a typical equipment leasing program upfront fees are around 20-25% of investor’s capital. As for Non-Traded REITs, it was reported in the Wall Street Journal, that a study on “Nontraded REITs are costing investors, especially elderly, retired, unsophisticated investors, billions. They’re suffering illiquidity and ignorance, and earning much less than what they ought to be earning.” In conclusion, “No brokerage should be allowed to sell these things.”
According the analysis, shareholders have lost about $50 billion for having put money into Non-Traded REITs rather than publicly exchange-traded funds. The study found that the average annual rate of return of Non-Traded REITs was 5.2%, compared with 11.9% for the Vanguard REIT Index Fund, a publicly traded REIT index.
McCutchen entered the securities industry in 1983. From May 2003, until January 2007, McCutchen was registered with NEXT Financial Group, Inc. (NEXT). Upon leaving from NEXT, from January 2007, through December 2014, McCutchen was associated with Berthel Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. (Berthel Fisher).
Advisers have an obligation to deal fairly with investors and that obligation includes making suitable investment recommendations. In order to make suitable recommendations the broker must have a reasonable basis for recommending the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation of the investments properties including its costs, benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors. In addition, the broker must also understand the customer’s specific investment objectives to determine whether or not the specific product or security being recommended is appropriate for the customer based upon their needs.
The number of complaints and regulatory actions against McCutchen 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 where their broker has acted inappropriately. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.