According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) financial advisor James Lyons (Lyons), has been subject to five customer complaints and one employment terminations for cause. Lyons was formerly associated with Raymond James & Associates, Inc. (Raymond James) until April 2017 when the firm terminated his employment due to customer allegation of unauthorized trading.
The most recent customer complaint filed against Lyons alleged that from December 2013 through June 2017 the broker engaged in unauthorized and unsuitable trading resulting in $800,000 in damages. The complaint was filed in June 2017 and is currently pending. Previously a customer in April 2016 alleged unauthorized trading resulting in $1.2 million in damages. That claim was eventually settled for $400,000.
Advisors are not allowed to engage in unauthorized trading. Such trading occurs when a broker sells securities without the prior authority from the investor. All brokers are under an obligation to first discuss trades with the investor before executing them under NYSE Rule 408(a) and FINRA Rules 2510(b). These rules explicitly prohibit brokers from making discretionary trades in a customers’ non-discretionary accounts. The SEC has also found that unauthorized trading to be fraudulent nature because no disclosure could be more important to an investor than to be made aware that a trade will take place.
The number of complaints against Lyons are unusual compared to his peers. According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters. However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher. Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.
Lyons entered the securities industry in 1983. From 1993 until February 2013, Lyons was associated with Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc. Since February 2013 until May 2017 Lyons was associated with Raymond James out of the firm’s Shreveport, Louisiana office location.
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.