The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating broker Marilyn Zehntner (Zehntner), currently associated with Rhodes Securities, Inc. (Rhodes Securities) out of Fort Worth, Texas. According to a BrokerCheck report, Zehntner has been subject to at least one customer dispute during her career. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the customer complaint against Zehntner alleges breach of fiduciary duty.
In January 2017 customers filed a complaint alleging that Zehntner and her member firm, Rhodes Securities, violated the securities laws by, among other things, engaging in breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and breach of contract causing over $2,000,000 in damages. The claim settled for $810,000.
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.