Articles Tagged with Suitability

shutterstock_173849111-227x300The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has ordered Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC and Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network, LLC to pay more than $3.4 million in restitution to customers for alleged unsuitable recommendations of volatility-linked exchange-traded products (ETPs) and supervisory failures, according to InvestmentNews.

FINRA found that between July 1, 2010, and May 1. 2012, “certain Wells Fargo reps recommended volatility-linked ETFs and ETNs without fully understanding their risks and features.”

According to FINRA, “certain Wells Fargo representatives mistakenly believed that the products could be used as a long-term hedge on their customers’ equity positions in the event of a market downturn. In fact, volatility-linked ETPs are generally short-term trading products that degrade significantly over time and should not be used as part of a long-term buy-and-hold investment strategy.”

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Prior to the most recent suspension, Hoffman’s license as a broker was revoked and suspended, according to BrokerCheck.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_168326705-199x300Our law firm, Gana LLP, is investigating claims made by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against advisor Gary Rasmussen. Rasmussen’s BrokerCheck records show customer complaints that allege that Rasmussen engaged in securities law violations, including making unsuitable investments in clients’ accounts.

The most recent customer complaint filed against Rasmussen was filed in October 2016. Allegedly, Rasmussen recommended investment products that were unsuitable and highly risky. The alleged damages are worth $178,892.00. The case is still pending.

In September 2012, a customer filed a complaint against Rasmussen alleging that the financial advisor recommended highly unsuitable investment products. Allegedly, Rasmussen also violated state and federal securities laws such as: failure to properly supervise, breach of his fiduciary duty, and lack of due diligence in the investment. The customer alleges that there was $475,000 in damages and the case is still pending.

shutterstock_102242143-300x169The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating the customer complaints against Sean Mcelduff (Mcelduff). Mcelduff has been subject to two customer complaints – both of which pertain to suitability concerns over recommendations for investment products. Mcelduff’s BrokerCheck records from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) shows that the most recent customer complaint against Mcelduff was filed in December 2016. The customer alleged that Mcelduff made unsuitable recommendations of Puerto Rican municipal bonds. The alleged damages are worth $260,000. The case is still pending.

In January 2016, another customer complaint was filed against Mcelduff claiming that the broker allegedly purchased unsuitable bonds for the client. The alleged damages were priced at $21,000 and the case was settled for $12,000.

Brokers have a responsibility to 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_103681238-300x300The investment fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are examining multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Scott Goldman (Goldman). Goldman’s FINRA BrokerCheck record shows several disclosures mainly pertaining to unsuitable investments.

In December 2016, an elderly customer alleged that during Goldman’s employment at LPL Financial Corporation, he recommended highly unsuitable investments that were heavily concentrated in risky, leveraged precious metal products. In addition, the broker did not properly inform his client of the risks associated with such an investment. This dispute was settled in December 2016, and resulted in $10,000 penalty and Goldman was suspended from the industry.

Another case against Goldman was filed in October 2014 for allegedly making unsuitable recommendations, failing to supervise, and breaching his fiduciary duty during his employment at H. Beck Inc. The alleged damages were worth $250,000. The case was settled in November 2015 for $75,000.

shutterstock_61142644-300x225Our firm is investigating customer disclosure claims concerning broker John Nelson Crook (Crook). Crook’s FINRA BrokerCheck record shows several disclosures of allegations concerning churning (excessive trading, unauthorized trading, unsuitability, and breach of fiduciary duty. His BrokerCheck records also show a disclosure concerning an employment separation after allegations.

In July 2015, Crook was discharged from Raymond James & Associates Inc due to the findings that that the financial advisor allegedly did not respond in a timely manner to a supervisory review of trading activity. In addition, Crook allegedly did not provide a legitimate explanation for the trading activity in a certain client’s account, which lead to his termination from the firm in July 2015.

The most recent customer complaint against Crook was received in November 2015.During the period between August 2006 and June 2015, Crook allegedly engaged in excessive and unauthorized trading. Crook allegedly also recommended unsuitable investment products to his client, fraudulently misrepresented, and breached his fiduciary duty. The alleged damages are worth over $4 Million and the case is currently pending.

shutterstock_95416924-300x225The investment fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are examining multiple customer disputes filed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Michael Jay Sharenow (Sharenow). Sharenow’s FINRA BrokerCheck record shows several disclosures mainly pertaining to unsuitable investments.

In November 2016, a customer alleged that he or she instructed Sharenow to buy highly rated bonds but Sharenow instead bought two inappropriate securities. This dispute settled in November 2016 for the amount of $8,258.42.

A currently pending case against Sharenow was filed in October 2016 for allegedly over-concentrating a client’s portfolio during the period of 2012 to 2015 while he was employed at Wells Fargo Advisors. The clients claim that the alleged damages are greater than $810,000.00.

shutterstock_145368937-300x225The securities and investment fraud attorneys at Gana LLP are investigating the regulatory complaint filed by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Stanley Clayton Niekras (Niekras). The FINRA regulatory action alleges that Niekras recommended unsuitable variable annuity exchanges in three customers’ accounts. FINRA found that Niekras effected the annuity exchanges to benefit himself at the customers’ expense. Niekras allegedly misrepresented himself to a couple in their 90s claiming $70,000 of fees due for financial planning services. According to BrokerCheck records, Niekras has been subject to eight customer complaints and one regulatory action among other claims.

The FINRA complaint alleges that Niekras made fraudulent misrepresentations to an elderly couple in their 90s to collect more than $70,000 in estate and financial planning fees while associated with the brokerage firm MML Investors Services, LLC. FINRA alleges that Niekras didn’t have an investment advisory or financial planning agreement with the elderly couple, but he billed them for hundreds of hours of time that he supposedly spent working on their “financial future”, work that he claimed to have done over four years knowing he wasn’t entitled to the “estate planning” or “financial planning” fees he charged. In February 2013, he recommended that the children buy a particular variable annuity with the gifted assets, anticipating collecting about $75,000 in commissions from the sales. The claim is currently pending.

The most recent complaint was filed in December 2010 alleging unsuitable variable annuity recommendations in clients account from January 1995 through March 2005 causing over $5,000 in damages. The claim settled for $247,500.00.

shutterstock_132704474-300x200The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Swan Sihua Shen (Shen) also known as Swan Sihua Zhang. According to BrokerCheck records there are at least six disclosures on Shen’s record including customer complaints, multiple regulatory actions, and one employment separation from CUNA Brokerage Services.

The most recent regulatory action against Shen was filed by the Maine office of Securities in October 2016 alleging that she failed to disclose history records so as a result was ordered for heightened supervision for 2 years.

In February 2015, the State of Massachusetts filed a claim against Swan Shen alleging that she repeatedly violated firm policies by copying and pasting client signatures, and altering forms which was precipitated by her termination from CBS in August 2013.

shutterstock_183201167-300x198The investment attorneys of Gana LLP are interested in speaking with clients of broker Parks Heard Brown Jr. (Brown). According to his BrokerCheck records kept by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Brown has been the subject of at least four customer complaints. The customer complaints against Brown allege securities law violations that claim unsuitable investments, churning, unauthorized trading, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims.

The most recent complaint was filed in October 2016, alleging that the broker while employed at VSR Financial Services Inc. made unsuitable investments based on the client’s liquidity needs. In March 2014, FINRA found that Brown violated FINRA rules 2090 and 2111 that require the use of reasonable diligence when recommending investment strategies. In addition, a customer alleged an unsuitable series of investments made in account between June 2012 and January 2014 resulting in damages of $245,750.00. The case settled for $71,500.00.

In another case filed in March 2004 a customer alleged that in June 2003 Brown misrepresented and failed to inform the account activity that caused $7,000.00