Broker Tom Parks (Parks) has been subject to a massive number of customer complaints alleging many millions in damages. Parks was associated with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. (Ameriprise) until April 2016. According BrokerCheck the customer complaints largely involve claims of unsuitable investments in oil and gas, variable annuities, and REITs. In particular, many of the complaints mention master limited partnership (MLPs). In total, 23 customers have brought complaints involving Parks’ actions. In addition, Ameriprise terminated Park stating that Parks was permitted to resign while the broker was on heightened supervision for violations of company policy related to suitability, client disclosure, and outgoing correspondence issues. The securities lawyers of Gana Weinstein LLP continue to investigate the customer complaints against Parks.
Our clients tell us similar stories that their advisors hyped MLPs and other oil and gas investments as high yielding investments without significant discussion of risk. In a recent Associated Press article, common stories of how investors are pitched by their financial advisors on oil and gas private placements were reported on. Often times these products are pitched as ways to ride the boom in U.S. oil and gas production and receive steady streams of income.
Brokers that have recommended MLPs to investors may have made unsuitable recommendations based upon the yields of these investments rather than the risk to principal. Over the past year MLPs have been hammered due to weaknesses in oil and gas and commodities markets.
Before recommending investments in oil and gas and commodities related investments, brokers and advisors must ensure that the investment is appropriate for the investor and conduct due diligence on the company in order to 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.
According to newsources, only about 7.3% of financial advisors have any type of disclosure event on their records among brokers employed from 2005 to 2015. Brokers must publicly disclose reportable events on their CRD customer complaints, IRS tax liens, judgments, investigations, and even criminal matters. However, studies have found that there are fraud hotspots such as certain parts of California, New York or Florida, where the rates of disclosure can reach 18% or higher. Moreover, according to the New York Times, BrokerCheck may be becoming increasing inaccurate and understate broker misconduct as studies have shown that 96.9% of broker requests to clean their records of complaints are granted.
Parks entered the securities industry in January 1987. From 1993 until April 2014, Parks was associated with Ameriprise out of the firm’s Stephenville, Texas office location.
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.