According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Robert Berg (Berg), currently employed by Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. (Summit Brokerage) has been subject to at least three customer complaints and one bankruptcy. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Berg’s customer complaints allege that Berg recommended unsuitable investments and securities.
In January 2019 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Berg violated the securities laws by, among other things, engaged in aggressive and speculative investment recommendations. The claim alleged $75,000 in damages and is currently pending.
In April 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Berg violated the securities laws by, among other things unauthorized withdrawal of funds. The claim resulted in an award or judgement of $16,400.
In March 2013 Berg declared bankruptcy. Such disclosures on a broker’s record can reveal a financial incentive for the broker to recommend high commission products or services. FINRA discloses information concerning a broker’s financial condition because a broker’s inability to handle their own personal finances has also been found to be material information in helping investors determine if they should allow the broker to handle their finances.
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 show 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.
Berg entered the securities industry in 1983. From June 2009 until July 2014 Berg was registered with Morgan Stanley. Since June 2014 Berg has been associated with Summit Brokerage out of the firm’s Danbury, Connecticut 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.