Articles Tagged with unsuitable securities

shutterstock_115937266-300x237According to BrokerCheck records Gaetano “Guy” Magarelli (Magarelli), now associated with Newbridge Securities Corporation (Newbridge), has been subject to five customer complaints and one lien.  According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Magarelli has been accused by customers of unsuitable investment advice.  Some customers have also alleged unauthorized trading among other claims.

The most recent complaint filed in June 2017 alleges $84,000 in damages stemming from a two year period.  The claim is currently pending.  Another claim was filed by a customer in March 2017 alleging that there were unsuitable trades from 2010 through 2017 causing $131,000 in damages.  The claim has been 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.

shutterstock_124613953The Massachusetts Office of the Secretary of Securities Division filed complaints against brokerage firm Securities America, Inc. (Securities America) and one of its financial advisors Barry Armstrong (Armstrong) concerning allegations that in 2014, Securities America authorized Armstrong to run a deceptive AM radio advertising campaign. According to the complaint, the advertising campaign was designed to target vulnerable Massachusetts senior citizens by trumpeting the looming dangers of Alzheimer’s disease and implying that the brokerage firm has special access to medical information and support.

Massachusetts found that the advertising campaign was a classic “bait and switch” in which callers inquired about Alzheimer’s support and information and instead were solicited solely for brokerage and financial planning services. Massachusetts found that advertising used alarmist language designed to pull in senior citizens with concerns about Alzheimer’s disease while failing to disclose the nature of the services Armstrong actually offers. Indeed, when callers contact the number provided the only information concerning Alzheimer’s that is provided is a Fact Sheet published by the National Institute of the Aging and some other publicly available free information about Alzheimer’s.

Massachusetts found Securities America’s approval of the advertising used “astounding” stating that as a national-scale broker-dealer the firm failed to make “substantive comment or follow up of any kind” when reviewing Armstrong’s advertising materials. In sum, Massachusetts alleged that “Securities America failed to prevent or even flag glaringly unethical conduct.”

shutterstock_171721244Continuing our prior post, the law office of Gana Weinstein LLP recently filed securities arbitration case on behalf of a group of seven investors against J.P. Turner Company, L.L.C. (JP Turner), Ridgeway & Conger, Inc. (Ridgeway), and Newbridge Securities, Corp. (Newbridge) concerning allegations that Sean Sheridan (Sheridan) churned claimants’ accounts through the use of excessive and unreasonable mutual fund switches, among other claims.

In addition to specifically finding that Sheridan committed fraud and made unsuitable recommendations in Claimants accounts, FINRA also found that JP Turner general sales practice with regard to non-traditional ETFs and mutual funds was inappropriate. On December 4, 2013, FINRA released a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver, and Consent (AWC) concerning JP Turner’s non-traditional ETFs sales practices and excessive mutual fund switches and fined the firm $707,559.53. FINRA v. J.P. Turner & Company, L.L.C., AWC No. 2011026098501 (FINRA, January 2013). According to FINRA’s investigation, JP Turner failed to establish and maintain supervisory systems related to leveraged and inverse ETF sales and mutual fund purchases.

In another churning related action, on November 8, 2013, the SEC issued a similar order against JP Turner finding that Michael Bresner (Bresner), as head of supervision, failed to properly supervise firm employees. The SEC Order found that JP Turner employed an Account Activity Review System (AARS) to monitor customer accounts for signs of churning. The SEC found that the average number of accounts flagged by the AARS system for churning was shockingly high for each quarter in 2008-2009 and was between 300 and 325 accounts and included more than 100 JP Turner registered representatives. In sum, the SEC discovered that no one at JP Turner was willing to take responsibility in determining whether churning took place in a client’s account – a problem that directly affected the claimants in this case.

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