Articles Tagged with Sammons Securities Company

shutterstock_143094109The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Daniel McPherson (McPherson). According to BrokerCheck records McPherson is subject to two customer complaints. The customer complaints against McPherson allege securities law violations that including unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, and breach of fiduciary duty among other claims.   The claims appear to relate to allegations regard direct participation products and limited partnerships such as equipment leasing and non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-Traded REITs). Other products complained of include oil and gas private placements and tenant-in–common (TIC) investments.

Our firm has written numerous times about investor losses in these types of programs and private placement securities. All of these investments come with costs that make profiting from the investment extremely unlikely. For example, investors are destined to lose money in equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. The high costs and fees associated with these investments make significant returns virtual impossibility. Yet for all of their costs investors are in no way compensated for the additional risks of these products.

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.

shutterstock_61848763According to the BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Eric Wegner (Wegner) has been the subject of at least 5 customer complaints and two financial disclosures. Customers have filed complaints against Wegner alleging a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, breach of fiduciary duty, and false statements mostly in connection with recommendations to invest in private placements such as tenants-in-common (TICs) interests. In addition, one complaint involves a dispute over a variable annuity recommendation.

Wegner entered the securities industry in 2000. From December 2002, until December 2008, Wegner was a registered representative with Sammons Securities Company, LLC. Thereafter, from January 2009, until February 2011, Wegner was associated with QA3 Financial Corp. From February 2011, until July 2013, Wegner was associated with Sigma Financial Corporation. Finally, Wegner is currently a registered representative with Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. out of the firm’s Delafield, Wisconsin office location.

TIC investments have led to devastating investor losses and are in almost all cases unsuitable products. The near certainty of failure of investing in TICs as a whole has led to the product virtually disappearing as an offered investment from most reputable brokerage firms.   According to InvestmentNews “At the height of the TIC market in 2006, 71 sponsors raised $3.65 billion in equity from TICs and DSTs…TICs now are all but extinct because of the fallout from the credit crisis.” In fact, TICs recommendations have been a major contributor to bankrupting brokerage firms. For example, 43 of the 92 broker-dealers that sold TICs sponsored by DBSI Inc., a company whose executives were later charged with running a Ponzi scheme, a staggering 47% of firms that sold DBSI are no longer in business.

shutterstock_180735233This post continues our exploration of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) acceptance, waiver, and consent action (AWC) that sanctioned brokerage firm Sammons Securities Company, LLC (Sammons) over allegations that Sammons failed to establish and maintain a system of supervision to comply with the securities laws.

FINRA member firms were required to conduct reviews of all outside business activities disclosed before to ensure that the disclosures complied FINRA standards. During FINRA’s investigation the regulator found that Sammons was unable to demonstrate that it had conducted a review. In addition, FINRA alleged that Sammons used a form to collect information from its brokers concerning their outside business activities but the form failed to request information sufficient to detect the occurrence of private securities transactions away from the firm.

Moreover, FINRA found that two Sammons brokers were operating registered investment advisors that held customer accounts at broker-dealers other than Sammons. FIRNA found that the representatives disclosed their advisory business as outside business activities to Sammons and those activities were approved. However, FINRA found that Sammons did not record or maintain the advisories securities transactions on the firm’s books and records, or supervise the correspondence of the business. As a result, FINRA found that the representatives’ participation in private securities transactions was unsupervised by the firm.

shutterstock_188383739The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), in an acceptance, waiver, and consent action (AWC), sanctioned brokerage firm Sammons Securities Company, LLC (Sammons) over allegations that Sammons failed to establish and maintain a system of supervision that is reasonably designed to achieve compliance with securities laws. From March 8, 2010, through October 8, 2012, FINRA alleged that certain supervisory deficiencies existed at Sammons including the firm’s supervision of registered representatives, the firm’s due diligence processes and procedures, and some of its implemented customer safe-guards.

Sammons has been a FINRA member since January 2002, employs a total of 516 registered representatives, and operates from 357 branch office locations. Sammons’ compliance functions are conducted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where its main registered Office of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJ) is located.

FINRA found that Sammons’ supervisory and compliance functions were conducted by a company called BD OPS, LLC, (BD OPS), an entity under common ownership with Sammons. BD OPS performed all of the firm’s supervision and compliance and also provided supervisory and compliance services for another broker-dealer and its related investment advisor. As a result, FINRA found that the 35 supervisory personnel working for BD OPS were responsible for supervising a total of 1,274 registered representatives and 854 branch offices between the two broker-dealers.