Articles Tagged with NEXT Financial Group

shutterstock_185582-300x225According to BrokerCheck records former financial advisor Charles Doraine (Doraine), currently employed by Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial) has been subject to at least six customer complaints and one regulatory action.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), many of the complaints against Doraine concern allegations of unsuitable investments in Puerto Rican bonds and mutual funds.

In September 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that during the period 2012 through 2015, Doraine excessively traded bonds and mutual funds and recommended an unsuitable concentration in Puerto Rican bonds causing $10,000,000 in damages.  The complaint is currently pending

In May 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that from October 2012 through 2017, Doraine made in and out mutual fund trades that were unsuitable for a low risk tolerance account.  The customer alleged $2,500,000 in damages and the claim is currently pending.

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shutterstock_172034843-300x200The securities attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating claims against Next Financial Group Inc. (Next Financial) broker Stephen Williams (Williams). According to BrokerCheck records, Williams has been subject to six customer complaints, one of which is still pending. The majority of these claims involve the misrepresentation of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Most recently, in February 2018, a customer alleged that Williams misrepresented the nature  of various non-traded REITs and didn’t properly disclose the high risk associated with private investments. The customer has requested damages of $350,000. This dispute is currently still pending.

In February 2018, a customer alleged that Williams recommended the customer to invest $50,000 in United Development Funding III (UDF lll) while misrepresenting and failing to disclose UDF III’s highly risky and illiquid nature.  The customer requested $50,000 for damages.

shutterstock_77335852-300x225According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Joseph Cotter (Cotter) has been subject to two customer complaints, two employment terminations for cause, and one regulatory action.  Cotter was formerly registered with Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial).  In March 2016 Next Financial terminated Cotter claiming that the firm conducted an internal review of the trading activity in a customer’s accounts and found the level of trading activity to be excessive (excessive trading) in light of the customer’s profile and the character of the account.

Thereafter, FINRA investigated Cotter and found that Cotter engaged in excessive, unsuitable trading in the accounts of one customer. FINRA found that Cotter exercised de facto control over an IRA account and a second account of a customer.  FINRA determined that Cotter used this control to excessively trade the accounts in a manner that was inconsistent with the customer’s investment objectives, financial situation, and needs.  The trading generated commissions of $100,549 while the client lost $391,893.

When brokers engage in excessive trading, sometimes referred to as churning, the broker will typical trade in and out of securities, sometimes even the same stock, many times over a short period of time.  Often times the account will completely “turnover” every month with different securities.  This type of investment trading activity in the client’s account serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is engaged in only to profit the broker through the generation of commissions created by the trades.  Churning is considered a species of securities fraud.  The elements of the claim are excessive transactions of securities, broker control over the account, and intent to defraud the investor by obtaining unlawful commissions.  A similar claim, excessive trading, under FINRA’s suitability rule involves just the first two elements.  Certain commonly used measures and ratios used to determine churning help evaluate a churning claim.  These ratios look at how frequently the account is turned over plus whether or not the expenses incurred in the account made it unreasonable that the investor could reasonably profit from the activity.

shutterstock_181783781-200x300In June 2016, Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial) broker Dion Padilla (Padilla) was subject to a regulatory action brought by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) alleging Padilla effected an unauthorized purchase of a variable annuity for a customer and misrepresented that the investment was not a variable annuity. According to FINRA, the customer stressed to Padilla that they did not want any of their funds invested in a variable annuity due to the high fees associated with variable annuities and because of their desire for liquidity.  But instead of following the customer’s instructions, FINRA found that Padilla presented a variable annuity application to the customer and assured him that the application was not for a variable annuity.  In addition, FINRA found that Padilla caused the customer to invest an additional $558,889 into the variable annuity by falsely claiming that the investment purchased was not a variable annuity.  FINRA found these statements to be misrepresentations that were all false and misleading.

In addition to the FINRA sanctions, Padilla has been subject to four customer complaints – many of which involve claims concerning variable annuity investments.  The law offices of Gana Weinstein LLP are currently investigating customer complaints concerning this broker.

Variable annuities are complex financial and insurance products.  In fact, recently the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released a publication entitled: Variable Annuities: What You Should Know encouraging investors to ask questions about the variable annuity before investing.  Essentially, a variable annuity is a contract with an insurance company under which the insurer agrees to make periodic payments to you.  The investor chooses the investments made in the annuity and value of your variable annuity will vary depending on the performance of the investment options chosen.  The primary benefits of variable annuities are the death benefit and tax deferment of investment gains.

shutterstock_95643673-300x300Since the beginning of 2010 broker John Hudson (Hudson), currently employed by Next Financial Group, Inc. (Next Financial), racked up eight total tax liens and other debts.  Some of these tax liens are quite large including on in September 2010 for $1,492,190.  According to BrokerCheck this tax lien is still active and hasn’t been satisfied.  While no customer complaints have been filed against Hudson and the presence of large liens does not necessarily mean that the broker will engage in risky behavior it is an important red flag for investors to consider.  The risk is that the broker will be influenced to recommend high commission products or trading strategies to satisfy the liens at investors’ expense.  In extreme cases brokers have even misappropriated funds or asked clients for loans to satisfy their personal debts.  There is no indication that any wrongdoing has occurred in Hudson’s case.

Brokers have a responsibility treat investors fairly which includes obligations such as making only suitable investments for the client.  In order to make a suitable recommendation the broker must meet certain requirements.  First, there must be reasonable basis for the recommendation the product or security based upon the broker’s investigation and due diligence into the investment’s properties including its benefits, risks, tax consequences, and other relevant factors.  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, 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.

shutterstock_85873471-300x200Gana Weinstein LLP is investigating a customer complaint filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) again broker Joeann Mitchell Walker (Walker). According to FINRA’s BrokerCheck records for Walker, there are several settled disclosures on her record. Walker entered the securities industry in 1992 and currently employed at Next Financial Group, Inc. She was previously employed at LPL Financial LLC (8/2006 – 4/2015), Commonwealth Financial Network (7/1998 – 8/2006), American Express Financial Advisors (6/1992 – 7/1998), and IDS Life Insurance Company (06/1992 – 7/1998).

In March 2016, a customer complaint was filed alleging Walker made unauthorized sales of different stocks, unauthorized and unsuitable purchases of variable annuities, and unauthorized mutual fund switches during the period of June 2014 to June 2015 while Walker was employed at LPL Financial LLC. The stated alleged damages were $208,764.00. The claim was settled in November 2016 for the amount of $175,000.00.

Walker has two additional previous disclosures from 2005 and 1999. In April 2005, a claim was filed alleging that Walker practiced in excessive turnovers in the client’s mutual fund account. The claim alleged damages of $30,000.00. This claim was settled in July 2005 for the final settlement amount of $9,900.00.

shutterstock_93851422-300x240The securities fraud attorneys at Gana Weinstein LLP have recently filed a complaint with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) on behalf of clients alleging that Erryn Barkett (Barkett) engaged in securities fraud by selling unapproved investments and inappropriate and costly alternative investments and private placements to the clients.  The claim was brought against brokerage firm Next Financial Group, Inc.  (Next Financial) alleging that the firm failed to supervise Barkett’s misconduct.  Barkett is currently associated with LPL Financial LLC (LPL).

According to Barkett’s brokercheck records Barkett has been subject to one regulatory complaint, four customer complaints, and has six financial disclosures.  The regulatory complaint involves allegations that Barkett solicited multiple investors to invest in an unapproved security called Voyager Financial Group, LLC.

Barkett has disclosed at least 11 outside business activities.  These activities include Barkett’s d/b/a Barkett Allen Capital LLC.  In addition, Barkett disclosed his involvement with SkyPix, LLC, BAS, LLC, Flagship Properties, LLC, Sunnyside Ranch, LLC, Produce Insight Panel, and Wheelman, LLC.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities.  In this case the claimants alleged that Barkett solicited them to invest in several business ventures including SkyPix and a land deal.

shutterstock_163885049-300x200Our firm is investigating claims made by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) when the regulator barred broker Tye Williams (Williams).  According to FINRA settlement, Williams consented to sanctions that he failed to produce documents and information to FINRA. In addition, FINRA stated that the documents and information requested related to an investigation regarding a customer complaint alleging that Williams converted over $1,000,000 from customers’ accounts, made unsuitable investment recommendations, and engaged in unauthorized transactions and mismanaged assets.

The complaint made in April 2016 alleged that from mid 2004 until 2015, Williams mismanaged their finances by exceeding the scope of his authority and recommended unsuitable investments in ventures like Smashburger.  The complaint alleges damages of $1,000,000.  The claim is currently pending.

According to Williams’ brokercheck records Williams has at least six disclosed outside business activities.  These activities include DC Rightside, LLC which is involved with Smashburger franchise.  Also disclosed is Tye Williams Financial Services, Inc., Gold Star Equestrian, LLC, One Source Advisors Group, LLC, and Fellowship of Christian Athletes dfw.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  Often times brokers who engage in this practice use outside businesses in order to market their securities.

shutterstock_63635611The investment fraud lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating the regulatory investigation filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Douglas Simanski (Simanski). According to BrokerCheck records Simanski is subject to five customer complaints one FINRA matter and one employment separation for cause.  The FINRA regulatory matter concerns the agencies attempt to investigate the circumstances surrounding alleged sales of private securities transactions and client fund conversion. (FINRA No. 2016049621301).  When Simanski refused to cooperate with the investigation, FINRA automatically barred Simanski from the industry.

According to FINRA, Simanski consented to the sanction and findings related to an investigation into allegations for conversion of funds.  The providing of loans or selling of notes and other investments outside of a brokerage firm constitutes impermissible private securities transactions – a practice known in the industry as “selling away”.  At this time it unclear the nature and scope of Simanski’s outside business activities and private securities transactions.  Often times, brokers sell promissory notes and other investments through side businesses as accountants, lawyers, or insurance to clients of those side practices.

Simanski entered the securities industry in 1995.  From 1999 until June 2016 Simanski was registered with Next Financial Group, Inc. out of the firm’s Altoona, Pennsylvania office location.  At that time Simanski was terminated over allegations that he sold fictitious investments and converted the funds for his own personal use and benefit.

shutterstock_112362875The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned brokerage firm NEXT Financial Group, Inc. (NEXT Financial) concerning allegations that: 1) between March 17, 2009, and August 26, 2011, NEXT Financial failed to timely and accurately amend registered representatives’ Forms U4 and U5 to disclose customer complaints, judgments and liens; 2) from January 1, 2010, through August 26, 2011, NEXT Financial permitted its former general counsel to directly supervise registered persons without a principal registration; and 3) from March 17, 2009, through August 10, 2012, NEXT Financial failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system that was reasonably designed to prevent and detect unsuitable sales of structured products to retail customers.

NEXT Financial is a general securities broker-dealer located in Houston, Texas and a member of FINRA since 1999. The firm currently has approximately 900 registered persons and 590 registered branch locations.

FINRA Rules require that every application for registration (Form U4) filed with FINRA shall be kept current at all times by supplementary amendments. Supplementary amendments must be filed within 30 days after learning of facts or circumstances that would require an amendment. FINRA also requires that a notice of termination (Form U5) be filed with FINRA within 30 days after an individual’s association with a member firm is terminated and the form must be kept current at all times by supplementary amendments.