Articles Tagged with Summit Brokerage

shutterstock_36343294-300x225According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor David Capin (Capin), currently associated with Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. (Summit), has been subject to nine customer complaints and one employment termination for cause.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Capin has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice, misrepresentations, and excessive trading among other claims.

In February 2017 Capin was permitted to resign from Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. (Raymond James) after he admitted to the firm that he had not discussed trades with certain customers prior to the time orders were entered.  This claim appears to concern unauthorized trading.

Two customers have filed claims concerning Capin in 2017 and both have been settled.  Another customer filed a claim in 2016 concerning unsuitable investments and that claim was denied by the firm.

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.

Continue Reading

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Prior to the most recent suspension, Hoffman’s license as a broker was revoked and suspended, according to BrokerCheck.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_94127350The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker James Noto (Noto). According to BrokerCheck records Noto is subject to at least one regulatory sanction and seven customer complaints. The customer complaints against Noto allege securities law violations that claim unsuitable investments and lack of due diligence among other claims.  Many of the more recent claims involve the sale of Variable Annuity products.

The most recent complaint was filed in March 2016, and alleged that James Noto, while employed at Summit Brokerage Services (Summit), recommended an unsuitable investment in a variable annuity.  In 2015, another customer filed a complaint alleging that Noto made unsuitable investment recommendations.

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.

However, the benefits of variable annuities are often outweighed by the terms of the contract that include exorbitant expenses such as surrender charges, mortality and expense charges, management fees, market-related risks, and rider costs.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_101456704The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Craig Langweiler (Langweiler).  According to BrokerCheck records there are at least 36 disclosures on Langweiler’s record including customer complaints, multiple regulatory actions, multiple judgments or liens, and a criminal matter. The most recent customer complaints against Langweiler alleges a number of securities law violations including excessive commissions, churning, unauthorized trading, and suitability among other claims.

The most recent regulatory action against Langweiler by FINRA alleges that he willfully failed to amend his Form U4 to timely disclose federal tax liens, totaling approximately $143,000, and civil judgments, totaling approximately $56,700.  FINRA alleged that Langweiler also provided inaccurate and incomplete responses regarding liens and judgments to his employer and he provided inaccurate responses to FINRA.

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.

Continue Reading

shutterstock_103079882The investment attorneys of Gana LLP are investigating investor claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas related products.  Our firm is currently representing a number of investors who lost substantial savings due to poor advice to concentrate holdings in speculative commodities investments like master limited partnerships (MLPs).  According to Brokercheck records, Andrew Yocum (Yocum) formerly with Morgan Stanley operating from their offices in The Villages, Florida has recently received at least 12 customer complaints with similar allegations that the broker overconcentrated them in oil and gas equities.  Eight complaints have been filed against Yocum in 2016 alone.

One of the most popular energy related investments that have become increasingly popular in the brokerage industry in recent years are MLPs.  MLPs are publicly traded partnerships. About 86% of the total MLP securities market, a $490 billion sector, can be attributed to energy and natural resource companies. There are about 130 MLPs trading on major exchanges that focus on energy related industries and natural resources.

Wall Street loves MLPs because they provide high yields to investors and require companies to pay Wall Street in order to continue to grow.  In 2013 banks earned fees of $890.3 million from MLP issuance.   Bloomberg quoted an analyst stating that “MLPs are Wall Street’s dream,” because “[t]hey’re fee machines.”  Naturally, in order to entice investors to continue to invest in MLPs Wall Street pumps up MLPs every chance they get.  According to Bloomberg, in May 2014 “[a]nalysts predict that 93 of the 114 MLPs in existence will rise in value in the next year…”  Astonishingly, “all but five MLPs are recommended by the majority of the analysts who cover them.”  At that time professionals without conflicts called MLPs “the next great investment debacle” and warned that “many MLP shareholders…may not understand what they’ve gotten into.”

Financial advisors must ensure that the oil and gas and commodities related investments being recommended to their client is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company before making the recommendation.  Unfortunately, sometimes adivsors fail to conduct sufficient research or understand the risks and prospects of the company.  Oil and gas and commodities related investments have been recommended by brokers under the assumption that commodities prices would continue to go up.  However, brokers who sell oil and gas and commodities products are obligated to understand the risks of these investments and convey them to clients.

Continue Reading

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) imposed a permanent bar against Gary J. Chackman (Chackman) concerning allegations that he recommended unsuitable transactions in the accounts of at least eight LPL Financial, Inc. (LPL) customers by over-concentrating the customers’ assets in real estate investment trusts (REITs).  Additionally, FINRA found that Chackman falsified LPL documents to evade the firm’s supervision by submitting dozens of “alternative investment purchase” forms that misrepresented customers’ liquid net worth.  FINRA found that by submitting falsified documents Chackman increased his customers’ accounts’ concentration in REITs and other alternative investments beyond the firm’s maximum allocation limits.

From December 2001, through March 2012, Chackman was registered through LPL.  On March 2012, LPL filed a Uniform Termination Notice for (Form U5) stating that Chackman was terminated for violating firm policies and procedures regarding the sale of alternative investments.  From March 2, 2012 through April 3, 2013, Chackman was registered through Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. (Summit). In April 2013, Summit filed a Form U5 terminating Chackman stating that the broker was operating a business out of an unregistered location.  According to Chackman’s BrokerCheck there have been at least five customer complaints filed against the broker.  Many of the complaints involve allegations of unsuitable REITs

Continue Reading