Posts Tagged ‘Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’

Is Your Broker Guilty of “Switching” Mutual Funds to Generate Fees?

May 13th, 2011
Mutual fund

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Ordinarily, mutual funds are long-term investments. And ordinarily, brokers who switch shares among funds with comparable investment goals have committed a violation if the switch serves little or no legitimate financial purpose other than earning him or her a fee. Such switching not only increases the fees investors pay, but it also puts them at risk of increased tax liability.

Often, investors are unaware that their broker has increased their investment costs and risks by “switching” their mutual funds. Mutual funds are intended to be held for a substantial length of time, not traded like individual stocks. To do so results in considerable charges that don’t apply to common stocks. Furthermore, the majority of mutual funds, by their very nature, may already be diversified and do not need to be traded unless there’s been a major change in the allocation of their assets or the fund manager’s market focus is narrow to the extent that it increases investor risk.

Mutual fund switch transactions are a violation of FINRA acceptable sales practices. If you believe you may have experienced financial loss due broker switching, contact an investment recovery lawyer at Carlson Law. Your broker’s misconduct may constitute a viable claim on your part for damages.

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Posted in Broker Fraud, Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (1)

FAQs About Mutual Funds

May 13th, 2011

How do you buy mutual funds?
To purchases shares (portions) in a mutual fund, investors may go through stockbrokers, banks, insurance agents and other investment professionals. They can even buy portions from the fund directly.
When you buy shares, you pay the current net asset value (NAV) for each share. You also pay any sales charge (sales load).

Are mutual funds easy to sell?
Yes, any mutual fund will buy back your shares during regular business hours. Within seven days, you’ll receive the NAV for each share sold minus any sales load.

Are mutual funds a risk-free investment?
No. Just as individual stocks fluctuate in value, so does the portion price of mutual funds. Therefore, the value of your investment will sometimes be more, sometimes less than its original price.

How do you choose the mutual fund that’s right for you?
To determine if you should invest in a mutual fund, acquaint yourself with the major types that are available.

Mutual funds may be categorized by their asset types. Most are either bond funds, stock (equity) funds or money market funds. However, numerous variations exist within these three categories. In fact, some mutual funds combine several types of investments. An asset allocation fund, for instance, is a type of mutual fund that combines all three asset classes—funds, stocks and money markets. Some mutual funds, funds of funds, invest in other mutual funds rather than in individual securities.

Mutual funds may also be categorized according to the investment strategy that they follow. Funds that attempt to reduce tax liability, for example, are called tax-efficient funds. Some mutual funds are managed actively while others try to imitate an index.

Every mutual fund has its own rewards and risks. In general, the greater the potential return, the greater the risk of loss.

When you’re looking for a mutual fund, be sure to shop around, comparing mutual funds of the same type with each other. If you find a mutual fund that interests you, carefully examine its prospectus. Think about the goals, risks, and expenses involved in investing. Is the mutual fund’s aim in keeping with your own? Are the risks acceptable to you?

If you feel overwhelmed by your investment options, do what many other investors do: consult a financial expert. If you were advised to invest in funds that were higher risk than was explained to you by your financial advisor, you may have a claim to recover your losses. Contact Carlson Law for a free consultation.

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Posted in Broker Fraud, Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (8)

Variable Annuity Exchanges & Replacements: Annuity Loss – Annuity Fraud – Did You Get Shafted by Your Broker?

May 11th, 2011

There is a continuing problem for investors relating to the improper sale or switching by investment advisors of variable annuities that can be annuity fraud and result is annuity losses. Many older investors have been counseled by their brokers to replace their old variable annuity contracts with new ones. In many cases it may be unsuitable and result in the creation of fees and commissions for the advisor, surrender charges for the investor and new long term non-liquid investment. Furthermore, adding insult to injury, in some cases advisors have neglected to exercise due diligence by assuring that the exchange of those annuities was tax free under Internal Revenue Code (Section 1035).

If done properly, exchanging variable annuities should be tax free.
In a tax-free 1035 exchange, the owner of a variable annuity replaces the current contract with a new contract. No tax is paid on the investment gains or income from the old variable annuity. If, however, an investor gives up his or her old annuity for cash and then uses that money to buy a new annuity, he or she will have to pay taxes on the old annuity.

Variable annuities can be fraught with hidden costs.
An additional problem with variable annuities is that exchanging and replacing them often results in surrender charges. Customers must pay these charges when annuities are surrendered before the end of their given surrender period. Usually, that’s six to eight years from the purchase date. Because surrender charges reduce the amount of money available for reinvestment in a new annuity, they also lower an investor’s potential return. And if that weren’t bad enough, the new replacement annuity has a new surrender period, so funds are ordinarily locked into place for another six to eight years.

In general, seniors shouldn’t invest in them.
Because of the risks, high fees and surrender charges associated with variable annuities, they’re poor financial choices for most investors over 65. In fact, California law requires that selling agents prove that an annuity replacement is of “substantial benefit” to their senior clients.

FINRA oversight of variable annuities is increasing.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has recently implemented new rules regarding broker recommendations to purchase and exchange variable annuities, making variable annuities one of the few securities products with its own suitability requirements. These new rules require that brokerage firms put supervisory procedures into practice for the detection and prevention of “inappropriate exchanges.”

Should you contact a securities attorney?
If you’re an older investor whose financial advisor has advised to exchange or replace variable annuities, resulting in a loss in your annuity either fraom annuity fraud or simple negligence, call Carlson Law for a free consultation at 619-544-9300. Furthermore, if your broker failed to facilitate a tax-free 1035 exchange of variable annuities, contact our firm. Your broker may be liable for any or all fees, taxes and financial loss you incurred as a result.

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Posted in Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (4)

MEDICAL CAPITAL INVESTOR AWARDED $400,000 BY FINRA ARBITRATOR

April 29th, 2011
Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...

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In 2010 Peak Securities, a brokerage house that promoted and sold Medical Capital securities, was found guilty of fraud, negligence, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty by a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) mediator. In this award against brokers selling fraudulent Medical Capital investments, an investor who experienced financial loss due to Medical Capital securities received a $400,000.00 award.

 

Hundreds of investors who bought fraudulent Medical Capital notes through brokerage firms have filed arbitration claims against those firms.  And in our opinion, this judgment for a Medical Capital investor will be the first of many.

The SEC exposes Medical Capital fraud.

The heart of a 2010 Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) complaint concerning investment fraud focused on Medical Capital.

Medical Capital professed to supply financial backing to providers of healthcare. According to company execs, they bought the accounts receivables of these providers and made loans to them. The accounts receivables were supposedly sold as notes to investors via private placements, also known as Regulation D offerings.

But it appears to have been a Ponzi scheme.

Medical Capital spent millions of investor dollars on administrative costs. Executives also spent millions on a Hollywood film, a yacht, and other extravagant items. And they failed to make interest and principal payments in a timely manner. They even pretended that no previous notes had been defaulted on.

But that’s not all.

According to the SEC receiver, hundreds of millions in medical receivables that had been packaged as Regulation D offerings were either overvalued or fictional. That’s right! Some had never even existed.

It’s been estimated that 20,000 investors bought $2.2 billion worth of Medical Capital notes, approximately $1 billion of which are in default. And that means massive losses for investors.

Comparable cases are pending.

In early 2010, another brokerage firm dealing in Medical Capital notes was sued, this time by the Massachusetts Securities Division of the Office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth. According to the lawsuit, Securities America, Inc. committed wide scale fraud–hundreds of millions of dollars worth of it—by marketing Medical Capital notes. The state alleges that the firm not only failed to perform with due diligence, but it also failed to disclose obvious risks to its investors, despite the urgings of its own president and a third party.

At Carlson Law, we believe that the arbitration award against Peak Securities foreshadows future arbitration awards against Securities America and the other brokerage firms that sold Medical Capital as well as other fraudulent and/or high-risk private placements such as Provident and DBSI.  For further questions and information, contact our securities fraud attorney in San Diego today.

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Posted in Broker Fraud, Investment Fraud, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud | Comments (15)