The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating BrokerCheck records reports that Seth Stewart, currently employed by Brookstone Financial and formerly employed by Center Street Securities, Inc. (Center Street), has been subject to at least two customer complaints during his career. According to records kept by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Stewart’s customer complaints allege that Stewart recommended unsuitable investments in illiquid alternative investments – a high risk investment category.
In February 2020, a customer complained that Stewart violated the securities laws by alleging that Stewart engaged in unsuitable investment advice. The claim alleges $200,000 in damages and is currently pending.
In December 2019, a customer complained that Stewart violated the securities laws by alleging that Stewart was unaware that certain investments he made were illiquid. The claim alleges $100,000 in damages and is currently pending.
DDPs include products such as non-traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments. These alternative investments virtually never profit investors and are almost always unsuitable for investors because of their high fee and cost structure. Brokers selling these products are paid additional commission in order to hype these inferior quality investments providing a perverse incentives to create an artificial market for the investments.
Several studies have confirmed that Non-traded REITs underperform publicly traded REITs with some showing that Non-Traded REITs cannot even beat safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds. Brokers selling these products must disclose to the investor that non-traded REITs provide lower investment returns than treasuries while being high risk and illiquid – but almost never do. Because investors are not compensated with additional return in exchange for higher risk and illiquidity, these kinds of alternative investment products are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors.
Brokers have a responsibility to treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client after conducting due diligence. Due diligence includes an investigation into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, issuer, history, and other relevant factors. Appropriate due diligence would identify that an alternative investment’s high costs, illiquidity, and conflicts of interests that would make the investment not suitable for investors. Investors often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment. In sum, for all of their costs and risks, investors in these programs are in no way additionally compensated for the loss of liquidity, risks, or cost.
Unfortunately, these types of alternative investment products continue to popular among brokers due to their high commissions. In order to counter the perverse incentives to sell these flawed product many states now limit investors from investing more than 10% of their liquid assets in Non-Traded REITs and BDCs. Many states impose these limitations because these investments do not benefit investors.
Stewart entered the securities industry in 2009. From April 2009 through July 2009, Stewart was registered with Center Street Securities, Inc. From July 2009 through February 2012, Stewart was registered with American Equity Investment Corporation. From February 2012 through November 2020, Stewart was registered with Center Street Securities, Inc. Stewart is currently associated with Brookstone Financial out of their Jeffersonville, Indiana 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.