Articles Tagged with Edward Jones

shutterstock_186180719-300x216The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the allegations made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against barred broker Clay Hoffman. In June 2016, Hoffman was suspended by FINRA for his alleged failure to respond to FINRA’s request for information. Hoffman was later barred in November 2016 for his alleged failure to respond to multiple requests for documents and information related to an investigation.

Prior to the most recent suspension, Hoffman’s license as a broker was revoked and suspended, according to BrokerCheck. During May 2016, Hoffman alleged failed to pay a $5,000 fine for a previous case, which resulted in the revocation of his license. Additionally, Hoffman’s broker license was suspended during February 2016 due to the findings that allege that Hoffman engaged unauthorized business practices. Allegedly, Hoffman executed discretionary transactions in a customer’s account without any written authorization from the customer or firm.

In April 2015, a customer complaint was filed against Hoffman for alleged misrepresentation, unsuitability, and unauthorized trading. During his employment at SunTrust Investment and Summit Brokerage Services, Hoffman allegedly caused a loss for his client due to the misrepresentation of Mutual Funds. The alleged damages were $234,697.00 and the case settled at $90,000.

shutterstock_94332400-300x225The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.’s (Ameriprise) termination of former broker Stephen Mosley (Mosley) working out of the Lake Havasu City, Arizona office.  Ameriprise terminated Mosley in November 2016.  According to the broker’s Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) BrokerCheck filing the firm stated that Mosley “was terminated for compliance policy violations related to complying with disciplinary action and heightened supervision, soliciting a prohibited security and suitability of a transaction.”  Mosley also has two customer complaints listed on his record.  No other disclosure concerning the extent and nature of the activity is disclosed.

However, Mosley has disclosed several outside business activities including his d/b/a Wisdom & Wealth Corp.  Mosley has also disclosed entities including LP Prop, LLC – a real estate holding company.  It is unclear at this time if Mosley’s activities involve any of these disclosed entities.

The providing of loans, selling of promissory notes, or recommending investments outside of the firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, or insurance agents to clients of those side practices.

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shutterstock_156764942The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints against broker Bernard Parker (Parker). The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced fraud charges against Parker, a former broker with Edward Jones through his DBA Parker Financial Services located in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Parker has been accused of raising at least $1.2 million of investor money that was in reality used to remodel his house and pay other bills among other uses.

The SEC alleged that Parker raised more than $1.2 million from his brokerage customers and others who Parker told were purchasing real estate tax lien certificates that would earn returns of 6-9% annually. Specifically, Parker told prospective investors that Parker Financial Services would use funds to purchase tax liens placed by municipalities on properties primarily in Florida, Arizona, and Colorado. However, the SEC found that Parker pooled the money he raised into several bank accounts and routinely deposited only a portion of the money into a bank account and took the remainder in cash for himself.

The SEC alleged that Parker only used a small amount of investor funds to purchase tax liens and instead used their money to remodel his home, make car payments, and pay bills for his father-in-law. For instance, according to the SEC Parker withdrew more than $650,000 in investor funds in cash from teller transactions, ATM withdrawals, and checks. Parker additionally spent approximately $197,000 of investor money in other transactions, $150,000 through personal checks, and $169,000 for online bill payments. In total Parker made approximately $188,000 in interest payments to earlier investors in an effort to keep his investment scheme from being discovered.

The SEC’s complaint alleges that Parker conducted the unregistered and fraudulent offering from 2008 to 2014 through his company Parker Financial Services. Parker is alleged to have failed to disclose his side business to his brokerage firm. The conduct allegedly engaged in by Parker is also referred to as “selling away” in the industry. In addition to the civil charges, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania has announced the filing of criminal charges against Parker.

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shutterstock_180968000The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned and barred broker Julius Kenney (Kenney) concerning allegations Kenney refused cooperate with requests made by FINRA in connection with an investigation into possible outside business activities. Such activities may, under certain circumstances also involve investment transactions referred to as “selling away” in the industry. According to FINRA BrokerCheck records Kenney has disclosed that he operates as a LPL Financial LLC (LPL Financial) broker under the DBA Frank Kenney Wealth Management in Calhoun, Georgia. There is one customer complaint against Kenney alleging that the broker solicited an investment in a business referred to as Mellow Mushroom in or around October 2013.

Kenney entered the securities industry in 2008, when he became associated with Edward Jones. Thereafter, Kenney became associated with LPL Financial in 2011 before leaving for Dempsey Lord Smith, LLC in July 2012 through September 2013. Finally, in September 2013, Kenney came back to LPL Financial until his termination in June 2015. On May 22, 2015, LPL Financial filed a termination notice (known as a Form U5) with FINRA disclosing that Kenney was discharged from the firm for participating in an undisclosed outside business activity.

The conduct alleged against Kenney may lead to “selling away” securities violations. In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though the brokerage firm claim ignorance of their advisor’s activities, under the FINRA rules, a brokerage firm owes a duty to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away often occurs in brokerage firm that either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

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shutterstock_1081038The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) recently sanctioned and barred broker Daniel Retzke (Retzke) concerning allegations Retzke refused to appear for on-the-record testimony requested by FINRA in connection with an investigation into possible private securities transactions and the soliciting of a loan (also referred to as “selling away”). According to FINRA BrokerCheck records Retzke has disclosed outside business activities include Country Inn & Suites, Galena Lodging Photography, Galena Lodging, and Retzke LLC. It is unclear whether FINRA’s investigation concerns these particular outside business activity. In addition, there have been at least three customer complaints filed against Retzke some which allege unsuitable investments.

ln December 1983, Retzke first became registered with a FINRA firm. In January 1992, Retzke became associated with Edward Jones. On November 13, 2014, Edward Jones filed a Uniform Termination Notice with FINRA disclosing that Retzke was discharged on October 14, 2014.

According to FINRA, in January, 2015, the agency began investigating whether Retzke had engaged in a private securities transaction and solicited a loan from a client. As part of its investigation, on January 30, 2015, FINRA sent a request to Retzke. According to FINRA, Retzke stated on a call with FINRA staff on February 3, 2015, that he will not cooperate with the investigation. Consequently, Retzke was barred by FINRA.

The allegations against Retzke are consistent with “selling away” securities violation. In the industry the term selling away refers to when a financial advisor solicits investments in companies, promissory notes, or other securities that are not pre-approved by the broker’s affiliated firm. However, even though the brokerage firm claim ignorance of their advisor’s activities, under the FINRA rules, a brokerage firm owes a duty to properly monitor and supervise its employees in order to detect and prevent brokers from offering investments in this fashion. In order to properly supervise their brokers each firm is required to have procedures in order to monitor the activities of each advisor’s activities and interaction with the public. Selling away often occurs in brokerage firm that either fail to put in place a reasonable supervisory system or fail to actually implement that system. Supervisory failures allow brokers to engage in unsupervised misconduct that can include all manner improper conduct including selling away.

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shutterstock_54385804The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) brought a complaint against broker Anthony Diaz (Diaz) concerning a host of industry violations. Diaz entered the securities industry in January 2000 and has been registered with eleven different firms over fourteen years. Diaz is currently employed by IBN Financial Services, Inc., (IBN Financial) since September 2012.

Diaz has a long and troubled history of securities related violations and misconduct. There have been at least 14 customer complaints filed against Diaz, he has been subject to 5 firm terminations, and has two judgments. FINRA also found that Diaz was fired or permitted to resign by six of the eleven member firms with which he was registered for. On or about November 21, 2002, Edward Jones fired Diaz for providing inaccurate information during a supervisory review, was terminated by Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. because it was “no longer comfortable supervising”, was permitted to resign on April 1, 2009, by First Allied Securities, Inc. because he had a history of customer complaints and administrative infractions., was fired by SII Investments, Inc. for unauthorized trading, was fired by Kovack Securities, Inc. because of complaints alleging unauthorized trades, and finally was fired by Sandlapper Securities, LLC for soliciting sales of variable annuities without being properly appointed by the issuing company.

FINRA alleged that from March 2010, through May 2011, Diaz induced approximately eighty customers to enter into variable annuity exchanges causing significant surrender charges without a reasonable basis for recommending these exchanges. FINRA found that each customer invested in the same fund, had the same subaccount allocation, and had the same rider selected. FINRA alleged that Diaz recommended the annuity exchanges without having an understanding of the features of the new product and used the same three invalid justifications for nearly all of these exchanges.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. (Edward Jones) concerning allegations that between January 2008 and July 2009, Edward Jones failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system that were reasonably designed to ensure that the sales of leveraged and inverse exchange traded funds (Nontraditional ETFs) complied with applicable securities laws.  FINRA found that Edward Jones registered representatives recommended nontraditional ETFs to customers without first investigating those products sufficiently to understand the features and risks of the product and that consequently these recommendations were unsuitable.

Edward Jones a Missouri limited partnership and a full-service broker-dealer since 1939.  The firm’s principal offices are located in St. Louis, Missouri and the firm has more than 15,000 registered representatives and more than 10,000 branch offices throughout the United States.

As a background, Non-Traditional ETFs are usually registered unit investment trusts or open-end investment companies and are considered to be novel investment products.  While ETFs came be common place in the 1990s, the first nontraditional ETFs began trading in 2006.  By 2009, over 100 Non-Traditional ETFs existed in the market place with total assets of approximately $22 billion.  Since 2009, the number of nontraditional ETFs on the market has since increased to more than 250.

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Most investors know that their financial advisor cannot misrepresent the risks and rewards of investments.  However, many investors do not realize that all brokers have an obligation to deal fairly with investors by only recommending suitable investments or investment strategies.  All sales efforts are judged by the ethical standards of Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) that sets industry wide investment standards.  The “suitability rule” contains three primary obligations: reasonable-basis, customer-specific, and quantitative suitability.

Reasonable-basis suitability means that the broker must believe, based on appropriate research and due diligence, that the product or strategy being recommended is suitable for at least some investors.  Thus, FINRA recognizes that there are some investment products and strategies that are so risky and likely to fail that they would be inappropriate for all investors.  Other investments may contain risks characteristics that are only appropriate for a very small group of investors or for specialized purposes.

Customer-specific suitability requires the broker to believe that the recommended investment strategy is suitable for that particular customer. The advisor must take into consideration the customer’s risk tolerance, investment objectives, age, financial circumstances, other investment holdings, experience, and other information provided to the broker.

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