Steven Knuttila Subject to Numerous Customer Complaints Over Alternative Investments

shutterstock_29356093-300x214Former Capital Financial Services, Inc. (Capital Financial) and Questar Capital Corporation (Questar) broker Steven Knuttila (Knuttila) has been subject to at least 25 customer complaints, one employment terminations for cause, and two regulatory actions.  According to a BrokerCheck report many of the customer complaints concern alternative investments and direct participation products (DPPs) such as non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil & gas programs, annuities, and equipment leasing programs.  The attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have extensive experience handling investor losses caused by these types of products.

In June 2018 FINRA barred Knuttila from the securities industry after he refused to appear for FINRA on-the-record testimony relating to an investigation into allegations that Knuttila made unsuitable recommendations to customers.  FINRA’s bar comes after a bar by Knuttila’s home State of Minnesota after it alleged that Knuttila sold numerous unsuitable investments to clients.  In addition, in 2012 Knuttila was terminated by Questar for failing to report customer complaints and wrongful use of discretion in client accounts.

Our firm often handles cases involving direct participation products, Non-Traded REITs, oil and gas offerings, equipment leasing products, and other alternative investments.  These products are almost always unsuitable for investors.  In addition, the brokers who sell them are paid additional commission in order to hype inferior quality investments which provides a perverse incentives by brokers to create an artificial market for products that no honest advisor would sell.

According to studies, non-traded REITs have historically have underperformed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds – meaning that non-traded REITs provide paltry investment returns considering the risk an investor takes.  Alternative investment products like oil and gas partnerships, REITs, and equipment leasing programs are rarely, if ever, appropriate for investors due to their high costs, illiquidity, high risks, and huge redemption charges of the products, if they can be redeemed at all.  Investors often fail to understand that they have lost money until many years after agreeing to the investment.

Unfortunately, due to the high commissions brokers earn on these products they sell them to investors who cannot profit from them.  These products have become so popular among brokers without providing any benefit to investors that many states now limit investors from investing more than 10% of their liquid assets in Non-Traded REITs.  Many states impose these limitations because its understood that that they provide virtually no benefit to investors in relationship to their risks.

In addition, the number of disclosures with respect to Knuttila is high relative 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.

Knuttila entered the securities industry in 1998.  From December 2006 until June 2012 Knuttila was registered with Questar.  From June 2012 until December 2017 Knuttila was registered Capital Financial out of the firm’s Perham, Minnesota 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.