Articles Tagged with overconcentration

shutterstock_174922268According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Donald Fowler (Fowler) has been the subject of at least 10 customer complaints. The customer complaints against Fowler allege securities law violations that claim churning and excessive trading, unsuitable investments, breach of fiduciary duty, unauthorized trading, fraud, overconcentration, purchasing securities on margin, and misrepresentations among other claims.   At least three of the complaints have been filed in 2015 alone. One complaint alleged that Fowler caused $419,372 in damages.

Fowler entered the securities industry in 2005. From September 2005 until February 2007, Fowler was associated with American Capital Partners, LLC. From January 2007, until November 2014, Fowler was associated with J.D. Nicholas & Associated, Inc. Since November 2014, Fowler has been associated with Worden Capital Management LLC out of the firm’s Garden City, New York office location.

Churning is investment trading activity in the client’s account that serves no reasonable purpose for the investor and is transacted solely to profit the broker. The elements to establish a churning claim, which is considered a species of securities fraud, 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.

On March 24, 2014, LPL Financial LLC, the fourth largest broker dealer, measured by number of salespersons, was fined $950,000 by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for failing to supervise the way that its brokers marketed and sold nontraditional investments.  The fine is one of many that have recently been imposed on LPL and other “independent broker-dealers,” firms that provide products, marketing, and regulatory services to independent brokers who are not their full-time employees.

LPL Financial was alleged to have deficient supervision as it related to the sales of alternative investment products, including non-traded real estate investment trusts (REITs), oil and gas partnerships, business development companies (BDC’s), hedge funds, managed futures, and other illiquid pass through investments. FINRA found that from January 1, 2008, to July 1, 2012, LPL failed to adequately supervise the sales of theses alternative investments that violated concentration limits.

Investors often rely on professional advisors like LPL Financial, which help them to diversify their portfolio while minimizing risk. LPL, like many states, has limits in place, on the portion of a client’s portfolio that can be concentrated in these riskier, alternative investments. According to FINRA, however, LPL failed to ensure adherence to these limits. FINRA explained that between 2008 and 2012, LPL utilized a manual process that relied on outdated data to conduct suitability reviews. FINRA further stated that once LPL transitioned to a new automated review system, its database was built with faulty programming.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned brokerage firm Royal Securities Company (Royal Securities) concerning allegations Royal lacked adequate supervision and controls in several areas.  FINRA alleged that Royal Securities failed to properly supervise two of its registered representatives, one of which utilized a unitary investment strategy for virtually all of his customers.  FIRNA also found that other representative made unsuitable recommendations in three customer accounts.

FINRA alleged that between January 2010 and May 2012, representatives of Royal Securities recommended nontraditional exchange-traded funds (Non-Traditional ETFs) to customers without having a reasonable basis to do so.  Further, FINRA found that Royal Securities failed to establish and maintain a supervisory system and training regarding the sale of Non-Traditional ETFs that was reasonably designed to comply with FINRA rules.

Royal Securities has been a FINRA member since September 1982 and the firm’s business lines include hedge funds, an investment advisory business, and a traditional brokerage business.  Royal Securities has approximately 41 registered persons operating out of nine offices.

Darrell G. Frazier (Frazier) was recently barred from the securities industry by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) over allegations that Frazier made fraudulent statements in the sales of variable annuities.  Frazier is also alleged to have made unsuitable variable annuity sale recommendations to customers.

Frazier first became registered with a FINRA member firm in March 1988.  Frazier was registered with Park Avenue Securities LLC from July 2002 through June 2010.  From August 2010 through May 2011, Frazier was associated with MML Investors Services, LLC.

FINRA alleged that from 2004 to at least 2009, Frazier made materially false and misleading statements in connection with recommending customers purchase variable annuity products issued by Guardian Insurance & Annuity Company, Inc.  A variable annuity is a contract where an insurance company agrees to make periodic payments to an investor either immediately or at some future date.  The purchase of a variable annuity contract either involves a single purchase payment or a series of purchase payments.

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