Posts Tagged ‘Investment’

FINRA System Open to Investment Adviser Disputes

November 16th, 2012

English: Wall Street sign on Wall Street

On Thursday, November 1st, 2012, FINRA Dispute Resolution issued guidance to attorneys who represent investors and those who represent non-FINRA investment advisers as to the availability of the arbitration and mediation services of the FINRA forum to resolve their disputes.

FINRA, The Wall Street funded watchdog, has long acted as the arbitration system in which investors and securities brokerages could, and were often forced by contract, to settle their legal disputes.  However, until now, whether that system was open to registered investment advisers and individual investors was dubious and unclear.

Despite the fact that using FINRA arbitration might be more cost effective than going to court, most investment advisers are opposed to the changes.   David Tittsworth, executive director of the Investment Adviser Association questioned the ruling, noting that there are few registered investment adviser account agreements requiring clients to forgo court and instead arbitrate any disputes.

Those favoring the changes say that using FINRA will be more cost effective than going through the expensive process of court and that for those investment adviser contracts which currently require arbitration, FINRA offers a much better financial deal than other arbitration services.

While the guidance provides some clarity as to how lawyers and investors can proceed, one thing to note is that FINRA does not regulate investment advisers.  Therefore, FINRA can only do so much.  Even with a ruling that goes against an investment adviser, unlike rulings against brokers, FINRA lacks the authority to suspend the adviser for failure to pay.

Carlson Law Firm is reviewing potential claims against investment advisers.  To speak with an attorney regarding your, please call Carlson Law Firm 619-544-9300 for a free consultation.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Securities Arbitration | Comments (0)

Attention Facebook IPO Stock Fraud Victims: Private Arbitration May Be an Option

June 18th, 2012

In the Initial Public Offering (IPO) class action suits of the 1990s, individual shareholders claimed that underwriters pushed them to buy tech stocks, driving up prices for the benefit of institutional clients who then dumped their holdings when prices were high, netting huge profits which they shared with investment banks and leaving lone investors with deflated stocks and hefty financial losses.

It took until 2009 for the IPO class action suit to be settled for $586 million.

 

Have Individual Investors Been Screwed Over Once Again? Probably.

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Français : Logo de Facebook Tiếng Việt: Logo Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What did Wall Street learn from the IPO debacle of the ‘90s? Not much, apparently.

Instead of maintaining an even playing field for all investors, class action suits recently filed allege that Defendants involved in the Facebook IPO favored certain institutional players and “preferred investors,” with underwriters privately providing them with information regarding the earnings stream for Facebook —information that differed from that published in Facebook’s prospectus and available to the general investor.

Unsurprisingly, a steadily increasing number of lawsuits are being filed against Facebook and the banks that underwrote its IPO, with claims likely to top $100 million.

 

Should Individual Investors Pursue Separate Suits? It Depends.

If you’re an investor who has suffered financial loss due to the alleged Facebook IPO stock fraud, you may want to join a class action, or you may be able to pursue an individual claim depending on the facts on your case.  If you bought the Facebook IPO from Morgan Stanley, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America or one of the “preferred investors” allegedly tipped about Facebook lower revenue streams, a FINRA arbitration may be your best bet to recover your losses.

 

Contact Carlson Law to evaluate your claim.

Carlson Law is reviewing claims for investors and closely following the SEC, Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and congressional panels reviewing what happened in the IPO.

If you lost money due to Facebook IPO alleged stock fraud, contact Carlson Law today at 619-544-9300 to review your claim and advise you about your best opportunities for recovery.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Stock Fraud | Comments (0)

Signs of Investment Fraud

May 30th, 2012

Investment fraud can happen to anyone. To protect against financial loss, it’s imperative that investors become active participants in their financial wellbeing, learning as much as they can about their investments, monitoring their portfolios diligently, and being alert for signs of investment fraud.  A few signs to watch for:

Sure Things
Financial advisors who guarantee that an investment will perform in a certain way, i.e. often provide high returns in a short time, should immediately be suspect. No investment is a sure thing; all of them carry risks. Any broker who tells an investor otherwise is being less than honest.

Undue Sales Pressure
Trustworthy brokers do not pressure clients into investments. Even if no fraud is involved, such behavior is inappropriate. Investors should avoid stockbrokers who urge them to make snap decisions, tell them that they must “act now,” or apply other heavy-handed sales techniques.

Inexplicable Complexity
Investors should not sink their money into investments they cannot comprehend. All aspects of any investment, including how it works and what its risks are, should be understandable. Investments that a broker claims are successful because of their intricacy—a complexity the financial analyst cannot explain—should be considered suspect investments.

Consistent Pay Outs
All investments, even those that are low risk, go up and down in value. That’s their nature. When returns remain unnaturally consistent or increase in value despite negative economic conditions, that’s a red flag that an investor may have

The unsustainable geometric progression of a c...

The unsustainable geometric progression of a classic pyramid scheme, from Securities and Exchange commission report on pyramid schemes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

invested in a pyramid scheme, a ponzi scheme or some other investment fraud scheme.

Account Discrepancies
Unauthorized activity, missing money and other problems with a client’s account statement may simply be mistakes. However, they could also be signs that the broker is churning the account or engaging in some other type of investment fraud. To lessen this possibility, investors should monitor their account statements.

Unlicensed Brokers
Investors who do business with unlicensed brokers run a high risk of fraud. Investment scams are often perpetrated by unlicensed brokers who sell financial products that have not been registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or issued by a legitimate agency. Unregistered products may include stocks, bonds, notes and hedge funds, among others.

Missing Documentation
Just as investors should avoid doing business with unlicensed brokers, they should also avoid making investments that have little or no documentation. Lack of documentation is a sign that an investment may be unregistered. For instance, if a mutual fund or a stock has no prospectus, or a bond has no offering circular, it might be an unregistered security. Likewise, stocks that do not have stock symbols may be unregistered.

Investor should also keep in mind, however, that not all legitimate investment products are registered with the SEC. Regulation D products, for example, are exempt from registration, as are those issued by the federal government or a state or municipal government.

If you think that you have been the victim of investment fraud, contact Carlson Law today for a free consultation at 619-544-9300. A securities fraud attorney may be able to help you recover some or all of your financial losses.

Tags: , , , , , ,
Posted in Investment Fraud | Comments (0)

Linsco Private Ledger Found Liable for Failure to Supervise in Stockbroker Malpractice

May 10th, 2012

Oregon’s Division of Financial and Corporate Securities (DFCS) found LPL Financial liable for failure to supervise. Specifically, the firm failed to adequately oversee one of its financial analysts, an unscrupulous broker who committed financial elder abuse, pushing high-risk investments to elderly clients (and those mentally incompetent to make investment choices).

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 02: Mickey Rooney testi...

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 02: Mickey Rooney testifies during the Justice For All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect & Financial Exploitation hearing at the Senate Dirksen Building on March 2, 2011 in Washington, DC. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Elder Financial Abuse

Jack Kleck, formerly a branch manager for LPL Financial’s La Grande, Oregon office, was found guilty of selling risky gas and oil partnerships to 30+ clients, the majority of them over 70 and in poor health. The investments were inappropriate to the clients’ financial goals—definitely not the safe investments Kleck characterized them as.

Charges & Penalties

For not adequately overseeing the actions of Kleck, for failing to implement its own oversight procedures and company policies, and for other violations of securities laws, LPL was fined $100,000 by the Oregon DFCS.

The penalty for Kleck? A fine of $30,000—and he can no longer practice as a stockbroker in Oregon.

LPL & Stockbroker Malpractice

Since the investigation, LPL Financial claims it has beefed up its oversight policies and procedures, is increasing the number of employees who review sales transactions, has administered tougher exams at their branch offices, and is implementing other practices to  improve compliance with the law.

Help for Victims of Elder Financial Abuse 

Elderly investors are often the victims of financial elder abuse similar to what happened at LPL.  Specific laws exist to protect the elderly from this type of abuse, and those laws provide for treble or multiple damages as well as attorney fees.  States throughout the nation are examining financial firms and their brokers to ensure that they are dealing with elderly clients in an appropriate manner.  Meanwhile, it is imperative that elderly investors be extremely careful when they do business with financial advisors, brokers and brokerage firms.

If you think that you’ve been the victim of financial elder abuse, contact a securities fraud lawyer at Carlson Law immediately for a free consultation 619-544-9300.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiduciary Duty Breach | Comments (0)

Goldman Exec’s Op-Ed NY Times Article Airs Investment Banking Firms Self Interest at its Clients’ Expense

April 9th, 2012

In a recent New York Times editorial, Goldman Sachs exec Greg Smith voiced his opinion on the real impetus behind stockbroker malpractice: the avarice of brokerage firms.  According to Smith, the greed of investment banking firms is so great that it impels them to put extreme pressure on stockbrokers to sell with the best interest of the firm in mind — without regard for the financial wellbeing of clients.  As stated by Mr. Smith:”My clients have a total asset base of more than a trillion dollars. I have always taken a lot of pride in advising my clients to do what I believe is right for them, even if it means less money for the firm. This view is becoming increasingly

Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Category...

Logo of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. Category:Goldman Sachs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

unpopular at Goldman Sachs. Another sign that it was time to leave.”

 

Smith is not alone in his opinion, which is seconded by others in the world of finance, including Rall Capital Management’s Bob Rall, a fee-only advisor, and Russell G. Thornton, a VP at Wealthcare Capital.  According to Rall, wirehouse firms do not focus on yield to the client (YTC). Instead, they focus on selling their proprietary investment products. And when a broker focuses on his or her own interests and the interests of brokerage firms rather than on client interests, the result is often a breach of fiduciary duty and stockbroker malpractice.     

 What Is a Wirehouse Broker?

A wirehouse broker works for a wirehouse brokerage firm (a national firm that has numerous branches). Ordinarily, wirehouse brokers are full-service stockbrokers who offer clients an array of services, from researching investment opportunities to buying and selling products.  They are supposed to function as fiduciaries, not as sales reps for their firms.

 

Because wirehouse brokers have access to the numerous resources of the major brokerage house for which they work, including the house’s own investment products, they have long been considered superior to independent brokers—that is, until the financial debacle of 2007-08, which was precipitated by stockbroker fraud and the unethical practices of firms in pushing their proprietary investment products above more suitable client options.

Does Your Broker Put Your Financial Wellbeing First?

Today more than ever, investors must carefully examine the performance of their financial advisors in order to avoid investment loss.

Is your broker behaving more like a sales rep for a brokerage house than a fiduciary who is committed to your financial wellbeing? Is your broker aggressively pushing a firm’s proprietary products? Or is he or she offering sound investment advice based upon research and your unique needs and financial situation?

If you believe you have suffered investment loss due to a breach of fiduciary duty on the part of your broker, contact a stockbroker fraud lawyer today at Carlson Law, (619) 544-9300.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Broker Fraud, Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (0)

Performance Fee Thresholds for Investors to be Raised by the SEC

June 9th, 2011
Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...

Image via Wikipedia

High net-worth investors will enjoy lower fees—that is, if the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) proposed changes to performance based fees proceed as planned.

The SEC intends to increase the dollar thresholds investors must meet before financial professional can charge them performance based fees. Currently, the thresholds are determined under two provisos of Rule 205-3 of the Investment Advisers Act: (1) brokers must have a reasonable belief that the client has a net worth of more than $1.5M, or (2) they must manage a minimum of $750,000 worth of investments for the client.

According to investment recovery lawyer Daniel Carlson of Carlson Law Firm, APC the current Act contains inherent risks for the average investor because it could encourage brokers to take big risks in order to make bigger fees: “If a high-risk investment fails, brokers don’t experience the financial consequences personally, but investors, particularly retirees, can end up losing everything.”

The SEC says it will issue an order revising the test for allowing performance fees to (1) a reasonable belief that the investor has $2 million in net worth or (2) $1 million of assets under management. In addition, the SEC order will exclude an investors primary residence from consideration in the 2 million dollars net worth evaluation, add a method for factoring inflation into the dollar amount tests.

If you are a high net-worth investor and have been exposed to unsuitable risk, you may have a claim for recovery of your losses.  Contact Carlson Law at 619-544-9300 for a free consultation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Fiduciary Duty Breach, Securities Law, Uncategorized | Comments (1)

FINRA CEO Says Brokers Must “Push and Pull” for Private Placement Information

June 6th, 2011

Often, investment advisors, stockbrokers and brokerages who unsuitably push Reg. D Private Placements on investors claim that any financial losses investors subsequently experience occur despite their due diligence. However, these private investments pay high fees that can induce some financial professionals to look the other way, focusing on the fifteen percent fee rather than the best interests of their clients in recommending these high-risk investments without the required due diligence having been performed. With the smell of large commissions and enormous fees in the air, it’s probably easy for brokers to rationalize away all of the drawbacks, risks, and any lack of appropriate due diligence for private placement investments.

Luckily for investors the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has decided to come down hard on the sales of Reg. D Private Placements. At a yearly meeting of the agency, FINRA CEO and Chair Richard Ketchum explained that in the future brokers who promote and sell private placements must “push and pull” for the necessary due diligence information in order to avoid liability and assure that they’re making sound investment recommendations for their clients. That means doing a lot more than reading basic investment documents and attending “canned” meetings if questions needed to be asked.

At Carlson Law we pursue brokerage firms and financial professionals who recommend inappropriate, high-risk private placements to clients. For elderly investors, conservative investors, and those with a net worth of less than $1 million or a yearly income of less than $200,000, private placements may be per se inappropriate investments. If you’ve suffered financial loss due to stockbroker malpractice, contact Carlson Law in San Diego today at 619-544-9300.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Broker Fraud, Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (2)

Costs Associated with Investing in Mutual Funds

June 2nd, 2011

If you’ve invested in mutual funds, you should know that taxes can affect your investment, sometimes significantly reducing your net returns. To completely avoid federal taxes, consider investments such as tax free municipal bonds. Also be aware that some mutual fund investments are more tax efficient than others. Below is some basic information regarding mutual fund fees, expenses and income taxation, check with your professional tax preparer regarding your specific tax situation.

What other costs are associated with mutual funds?

In addition to taxes, mutual fund fees and ongoing fund expenses related to holding mutual funds affect your net returns. For instance, when you sell, buy, and exchange shares, you will likely pay sales loads and transaction fees. Additionally, as a mutual fund holder you must pay ongoing expenses, i.e. management fees and 12b-1 fees.

When you’re considering purchasing a mutual fund, be sure to consult the fee table located at the front of its prospectus. This table compares the costs of different funds. And be aware that just because high fees are associated with a fund doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a high-performing investment product.

Nontaxable capital returns
You can receive a return on a mutual fund without having to pay taxes on it. Usually, this happens when the return recovers some or all of your cost basis in the fund. Because they’re not strictly earnings, these returns are tax-free. You must, however, report them on your tax return.

Taxable dividend income
Many mutual funds pay dividends on a yearly, monthly, or quarterly basis to shareholders on a pro-rata basis. These dividends must be reported on your tax return for the year they were distributed.

Mutual fund dividends earned by individual shareholders often, but not always, qualify for taxation at capital gains rates. For instance, corporate stock dividends that a mutual fund receives and passes to shareholders usually qualifies for taxation at capital gains rates. If, however, mutual fund dividends are the result of other some other type of earning, such as interest, they’re taxed like ordinary income. Furthermore, special holding period requirements often must be met in order for dividends to qualify for long-term capital gain tax treatment.

Short-term capital gains
For tax purposes, short-term capital gain distributions are usually treated like dividends.

Long-term capital gains
Fund shareholders receive long-term capital gain distributions on a pro-rata basis. They must report these earning on their tax returns as long-term capital gains no matter how long they have held them.

Selling shares
When you sell shares in a mutual fund, usually you must pay tax on any capital gains earned. The taxable amount is ordinarily equal to the difference between the sale price and the original share purchase price. The tax owed on a gain depends on the rate at which the gain is taxed, which depends on how long you held the shares before selling them. In general, if you hold shares over a year before you sell them, any gain realized is considered long-term capital gain. On the other hand, if you sell after less than a year, any gains you earn will be considered short-term gain and taxed accordingly.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Securities Law, Stock Loss, Uncategorized | Comments (0)

Justice for Morgan Keegan Investors an Ongoing Struggle

May 23rd, 2011
Seal of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commi...

Image via Wikipedia

Morgan Keegan & Company, Inc., a financial services division of Regions Financial Corporation, has been the subject of numerous regulatory investigations in the last few years.

Originally founded by Allen B. Morgan, Jr., James Keegan and two other businessmen in 1969, Morgan Keegan didn’t grow on a large scale until the 1980s when it began acquiring other brokerage houses, beginning with the Mississippi-based Geary & Patterson. By 1990, it had purchased a total of four investment houses, and it was hungry for more. From 1992 to 1997, it bought seven additional firms as well as a sports agency, Athletic Resource Management.

Morgan Keegan itself was purchased in 2001 by Regions Financial. Regions incorporated its brokerage unit into the firm, creating a division specializing in asset management, investment banking and securities brokerage.

In April 2011, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) as well as various state regulatory agencies and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filed civil suits against Morgan Keegan.
According to many investor complaints filed with FINRA, State and SEC suits and investigations, from 2004 to 2007, the company marketed Select Intermediate Bond Funds and Select High Income Funds as low-risk securities to investors who had requested safe, short-term corporate commercial paper investments. Furthermore, Morgan Keegan did not inform clients that most of their assets (over 50 percent) were invested in sub-prime, illiquid, untested investment structures, such as mortgage-backed securities and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs).

When the mortgage market collapsed in 2007, investors lost big. According to the SEC, the company and two of its top execs, Thomas Weller and James Kelsoe, purposely hid the plummeting value of their risky investments through 262 so-called “price adjustments.”

The result of Morgan Keegan’s blatantly behavior was predictably catastrophic for their clients. Thousands of investors, hoping to recoup their financial loss, have filed or will file arbitration claims against Morgan Keegan with FINRA.

Unfortunately, although regulators unanimously agree that Morgan Keegan committed acts of egregious fraud that financially harmed clients, investor claimants in FINRA proceedings, generally individual or family trust investors, have thus far experienced very mixed success in recovering their losses. Why? They’ve consistently been denied access to documents necessary to their cases by FINRA arbitration panels.

Despite the fact that Morgan Keegan has publically admitted it’s been the subject of multiple regulatory investigations, the thousands and thousands of documents relating to these investigations have been denied to claimants and their counsel because many arbitrators have refused to order that Morgan Keegan produce this potentially damning paperwork. Consequently, time and time again, arbitration panels have rendered decisions on claims without having all the relevant facts.

Clearly, this must change if investors are to receive just compensation for their financial loss. And with persistent, long-term petitioning by defrauded investors and their lawyers, no doubt it will change.

If you feel you have been a victim of investment fraud or negligence, contact Carlson Law in San Diego. Carlson Law specializes in investment recovery litigation and arbitration. Call 619-544-9300 now for a free consultation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Broker Fraud, Fiduciary Duty Breach, Investment Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation, Securities Arbitration, Securities Fraud, Securities Law, Securities Litigation, Stock Fraud, Stock Loss | Comments (2)

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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)