Articles Tagged with VSR Financial Services

shutterstock_143685652-300x300Our securities fraud attorneys are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against Douglas Studer (Studer) formerly associated with Kovack Securities Inc. (Kovack) alleging unauthorized trading among other claims.  According to brokercheck records Studer has been subject to two customer complaints, one bankruptcy in 2010, and one regulatory sanction resulting in a permanent bar from the securities industry.

In September 2016 FINRA sanctioned Studer alleging that he consented to the entry of findings that he refused to appear for testimony concerning an investigation into whether he had violated his employing member firm’s policy by being named in an elderly customer’s estate documents to inherit the customer’s waterfront condominium.

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shutterstock_94127350The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced that it has fined eight brokerage a total of $6.2 million for failing to supervise sales of variable annuities (VAs).  Five of the firms were required to pay more than $6 million to customers who purchased L-share variable annuities that came with potentially incompatible, complex and expensive long-term minimum-income and withdrawal riders.

FINRA’s enforcement actions were against the following firms.

  • VOYA Financial Advisors Inc. – fined $2.75 million.
  • Cetera Advisor Networks LLC – fined $750,000.
  • Cetera Financial Specialists LLC – fined $350,000.
  • First Allied Securities, Inc. – fined $950,000.
  • Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. – fined $500,000.
  • VSR Financial Services, Inc. – fined $400,000.
  • Kestra Investment Services, LLC – fined $475,000.
  • FTB Advisors, Inc. – fined $250,000.

FINRA ordered the firms to pay the following to investors.

The L-share VAs are complex investment products that combine insurance and investment features designed for short-term investors willing to pay higher fees in exchange for shorter surrender periods.  L-shares also have the potential to pay greater commissions to brokers than traditional share classes.

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shutterstock_158028338The securities lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against broker Mickey Long (Long). According to BrokerCheck records Long is subject to nine customer complaints. The customer complaints against Long 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.

Our firm has represented many clients in these types of products. All of these investments come with high costs and historically have under performed even safe benchmarks, like U.S. treasury bonds. 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.

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shutterstock_176284139The securities fraud lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints filed with The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s (FINRA) against broker Jesse Griffin (Griffin). According to BrokerCheck records Griffin has been the subject of at least six customer complaints three of which have been filed since 2014. The customer complaints against Griffin allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and negligence among other claims.

The most recent customer complaint filed in June 2015 alleged unsuitable investments from November 2006 through September 2008. The claim was settled.

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.

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shutterstock_45316696The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints against broker Robert Bragg (Bragg). There are at least 4 customer complaints against Bragg. The customer complaints against Bragg allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, negligence, fraud, 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). Our firm has written numerous times about investor losses in these types of programs such as equipment leasing programs like LEAF Equipment Leasing Income Funds I-IV and ICON Leasing Funds Eleven and Twelve. Investors are destined to lose money in these investments because the 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.

The most recent complaint was filed in February 2015 and alleged unsuitable investments for investments made between 2005 though August 2013 causing $460,488 in damages. Another complaint filed in November 2014 alleged breach of fiduciary duty among other claims for investments made in October 2007 though September 2010 causing $322,432.

Bragg entered the securities industry in March 2004. Since March 2004, Bragg has been registered with VSR Financial Services, Inc. out of the firm’s Colorado Springs, Colorado office location.

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.

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shutterstock_186471755The investment lawyers of Gana LLP are investigating customer complaints against broker Robert Hinz Jr. (Hinz). There are at least 7 customer complaints against Hinz. The customer complaints against Hinz allege a number of securities law violations including that the broker made unsuitable investments, misrepresentations, negligence, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and unauthorized trading among other claims. One of the claims involves the purchase of oil and gas private placement Reef Oil & Gas Income and Development Fund III.

The most recent complaint was filed in February 2013 and alleged fraud and negligence from activities that occurred from July 2007 until December 2009 and resulted in $240,000 in damages. Another complaint filed in January 2012 alleged dissatisfied performance with respect to investments and asked for $34,680. The case was closed with no action.

Hinz entered the securities industry in January 1982. Since August 1994, Hinz has been registered with VSR Financial Services, Inc. out of the firm’s Seattle, Washington office location.

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.

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shutterstock_120556300On August 27, 2014, FINRA filed a complaint against Steven L. Stahler, formerly a registered representative with multiple broker dealers including Lowell & Company, Inc., Ausdal Financial Partners, Inc., Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc., VSR Financial Services, Inc., among others. On November 1, 2013, Lowell & Company terminated Mr. Stahler according to his form U5.

FINRA alleges that Mr. Stahler made unsuitable recommendations to customers in violation of FINRA Rule 2310 and 2110 and FINRA Rule 2010.  Under FINRA Rule 2110 and 2310, all financial advisers and brokerage firms have a responsibility to deal fairly with their customers. All sales efforts are judged based upon the standards outlined in the FINRA Rules. Furthermore, all brokers must recommend the purchase, sale or exchange of securities that are reasonable given the customers investment objectives and risk tolerances.

According to the complaint, VSR Financial’s written supervisory procedures specify that no more than 40%-50% of a customer’s liquid net worth should be invested in alternative investments. VSR’s guidelines also required that new account forms used outline the customer’s percentage of the portfolio they would feel comfortable investing in high risk investments. FINRA alleges that from September 13, 2006 through October 24, 2006, Mr. Stahler recommended that a married couple, who had stated that no more than twenty percent of their portfolio be invested in aggressive/high risk investments, invested approximately $837,000 in twelve high risk investments at Mr. Stahler’s recommendation. These alternative investments included:

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shutterstock_80511298The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned broker Kevin Nevin (Nevin) concerning allegations that Nevin participated in 11 private securities transactions totaling $690,000 over the course of two years without first disclosing his participation his member firm. Through this conduct, FINRA found that Nevin violated NASD Conduct Rules 3040 and 2110.

Nevin entered the securities industry in 1994 and is currently a representative of Capital Guardian, LLC. In March 2006, Nevin became associated with VSR Financial Services (VSR) until February 2011, when he was terminated. In addition, to the recent FINRA complaint, Nevin has also been subject to three customer complaints. Some of the customer complaints concern allegations of unsuitable sales practices and securities fraud concerning variable annuities. Another customer complaint concerns the recommendation of oil & gas and real estate related private placements.

FINRA alleged that during part of the time he was registered with VSR, Nevin operated out of an office with another VSR registered representative referred to by the initials “PL.”   FINRA found that PL was involved with at least three private placement offerings involving real estate and/or appurtenant property rights entities in the state of Colorado: Breakwater Capital Group, LLC; Yokam Land Holdings, LLC; and South Platte Land & Water, LLC. FINRA found that PL assured Nevin that he had informed VSR of the involvement in the Colorado water rights and real estate activity and that the private placement offerings were conducted entirely under the operations of PL’s real-estate agency. According to FINRA, PL told Nevin that he could recommend investments in these offerings to his customers and earn commissions on any ensuing investments if he obtained a real-estate license.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) sanctioned financial advisor John H. Towers (Towers) of VSR Financial Services, Inc. (VSR) concerning allegations of unsuitable sales of over $6,000,000 in alternative investments including oil and gas interests, real estate investment trusts (REITs), and other speculative private placement investments to an investor.  FINRA’s determinations in this matter is significant because some in financial industry take the position that wealthy customers are automatically sophisticated and therefore fair game to recommend positions in speculative private placement securities.  The theory goes that if you have a lot of money then it is ok for you to lose some of it speculating in alternative investments.

Towers entered the securities industry in 1970.  From 2002 until December 2013, Towers was associated with VSR.  According to Towers’ BrokerCheck at least 14 customers have filed complaints against Towers.  The vast majority of those complaints involve claims concerning the improper sale of various private placement securities.

FINRA alleged that in September 2005, Towers recommended that a married couple invest $25,000 in APC 2005-B, a high risk private placement.  Over the next five years, FINRA found that Towers continually recommended that the couple make an additional eighty-eight investments in private placements and REITs totaling approximately $6,259,400 and representing approximately 72% of their investments purchased at VSR.  FINRA alleged that the private placements and REITS were all described in the offering documents as high risk investments.  FINRA also found that the couple had stated a moderate risk tolerance on their new account forms and specified that no more than 10% of their accounts were to be invested in high risk products.

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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), VSR Financial Services, Inc. (“VSR”), and Donald J. Beary (“Beary”) have reached a settlement concerning charges brought by the securities regulator that VSR violated customer concentration guidelines and otherwise failed to reasonably supervise its brokers in the sales of alternative investments.  The settlement led to VSR paying a $550,000 fine and Beary being suspended from associating with a FINRA firm for 45 days and a $10,000 fine.

VSR is based in Overland Park, Kansas, has 211 branch offices, and employs approximately 460 registered personnel.  Beary is a co-founder of VSR and is its executive vice-president, chairman of the board, and direct participation principal.

According to FINRA, from 2005 until 2010 VSR and Beary failed to adequately implement the firm’s supervisory procedures concerning concentration limits in customer accounts for alternative investments.  The settlement details that VSR’s supervisory failures regarding concentration limits occurred because the firm used inaccurate statements reflecting the customer’s true concentration in alternative investments and because the firm used inaccurate risk ratings of products to increase allowable concentration levels.

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