UBS Broker Leonard Boccia Subject to Churning Complaint

shutterstock_174352538-300x198According to BrokerCheck records kept by The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) broker Leonard Boccia (Boccia) has been subject to at least three customer complaints during his career.  Boccia is currently employed by UBS Financial Services Inc. (UBS).  One of the customer complaints against Boccia concern allegations of high frequency trading activity also referred to as churning and unsuitable investments.

In December 2018 a customer filed a complaint alleging that Boccia violated the securities laws including that from 2016 to 2018 Boccia traded their accounts excessively and unsuitably, exercised discretion in their accounts without proper authority, and charged commissions that were not disclosed and/or misrepresented to them causing $1,000,000 in damages.  The claim is currently pending.

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.

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.

Boccia entered the securities industry in 1990.  From November 2005 until March 2016 Boccia was registered with Wells Fargo Advisors, LLC.  Since March 2016 Boccia has been registered with UBS out of the firm’s New York, New York office location.

At Gana Weinstein LLP, our attorneys are experienced representing investors who have suffered securities losses due to excessive trading and churning violations.  Investors who have suffered losses are encouraged to contact us at (800) 810-4262 for consultation.  Claims may be brought in securities arbitration before FINRA.  Our consultations are free of charge and the firm is only compensated if you recover.