According to BrokerCheck records financial advisor Paul Muran (Muran), currently employed by Thurston Spinger Financial (Thurston Spinger) has been subject to four customer complaints during his career. In addition, Muran has been twice terminated for cause. According to records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the complaints against Muran concern allegations of unsuitable investments and allegations of overconcentration involving equities, oil and gas, life settlement contracts, and structured products.
In March 2011, Muran was terminated by Merrill Lynch Pierce, Fenner and Smith, Inc. (Merrill Lynch) over allegations that he participated in an outside investment without the firm’s approval. Thereafter, in October 2017 Muran was then terminated by UBS Financial Services, Inc. (UBS) on similar charges that Muran facilitated client purchases of life-settlement products not listed on firm platform, failing to escalate a client complaint, responding to the complaint without managerial approval, and failing to disclose a client’s subsequent investment in an outside passive investment.
In November 2018 a customer complained that Muran recommended investments that violated the securities laws by recommending a life settlement contract that was misrepresented and unsuitable. The client further alleges unauthorized trading of structured products and that the client had no idea she was borrowing from her loan account. The customer alleges an unknown amount of damages but the claim is currently settled for $250,000.
In May 2018 a customer complained that Muran recommended investments that violated the securities laws including unsuitable investments, unauthorized credit line agreement, unauthorized trades, uninvested funds, and lost market opportunity. The customer claimed $183,000 in damages and is currently pending.
Brokers are required under the securities laws to treat their clients fairly. This obligation includes the duties to disclose material risks of the investments they recommend and to present products, particularly complex or confusing products, in a fair and balanced manner that allows the client to evaluate the recommendation. Another important obligation advisors have is to make only suitable recommendations for investments to the client. There are many investments that are not appropriate for the majority of investors or for certain investors given their risk tolerance, age, and other factors. Advisors should not present these investment options to clients. There are two screens that advisors must employ to determine whether an investment is suitable for a client. First, there must be a reasonable basis for the recommendation – meaning that the product has been investigated and due diligence conducted into the investment’s features, benefits, risks, and other relevant factors. The advisor must conclude that the investment is suitable for at least some investors and some securities may be suitable for no one. 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.
According to newsources, a study revealed that 7.3% of financial advisors had a customer complaint on their record when records from 2005 to 2015 were examined. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their BrokerCheck reports that include customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, terminations, and criminal cases. In addition, research has show a disturbing pattern with troublesome brokers where brokers with high numbers of customer complaints are not kicked out of the industry but instead these brokers are sifted to lower quality brokerage firms with loose hiring practices and higher rates of customer complaints. These lower quality firms may average brokers with five times as many complaints as the industry average.
Murans entered the securities industry in 1999. From April 2003 until March 2011 Murans was registered with Merrill Lynch. From March 2011 until November 2017 Murans was associated with UBS. Finally, since October 2017 Murans has been registered with Thurston Springer out of the firm’s Indianapolis, Indiana office location.
Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation. At Gana Weinstein LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to the mishandling of their accounts. Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA. Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.