Articles Posted in Stifel, Nicolaus, & Co. Inc.

Stifel Financial Corp. is reporting an 80% increase of earnings during its first quarter, which ended on March 31, compared to last year. Nearly 57% of its operating profit and 64% of revenue came from its global wealth management group. The profit increase came even as the financial firm slowed down its recruitment of new brokers. On its financial adviser roster, just 45 names were added, as Stifel made the decision not to engage in recruitment wars with larger firms that have enhanced their recruiting packages in an effort to bring in new people who can help the firms rehabilitate their reputations in the wake of the 2008 market collapse. Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, and other investment banks are reportedly offering leading brokers up to 300% of the revenue they produced in the last 12 months.

While Stifel increased its adviser roster by over 500 in 2009, absorbing over 300 advisers from UBS Financial Services Inc.’s wealth management group and 56 retail branches, this year the financial firm seems to be focusing more energy on creating a more balanced revenue mix. By merging (a $300 M deal), with Thomas Weisel Partners Group Inc. Stifel’s retail and investment-banking/capital revenue will be brought into balance.

According to Investment News, Ron Kruszewski, Stifel chief executive and chairman, as saying that the ex-UBS brokers that are now working for Stifel are working at about 80% of their potential. Seeing as many of them started with the financial firm toward the end of last year, it may take a little longer for them to fully transfer their client assets and achieve complete operational efficiency.

Related Web Resources:
Stifel backs off recruiting wars — and profits soar, Investment News, April 29, 2010
Stifel Financial Corp. Announces First Quarter Results, Marketwatch, April 29, 2010 Continue Reading ›

Stifel, Nicolaus and Co. Inc. has reached an agreement with Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan over the broker fraud committed by former Stifel securities broker Girard Munsch. As part of the deal, the three Missouri investors will get back $78,000 in commissions that they paid and the broker-dealer will pay over $130,000 in payments, penalties, and costs.
Over three years, Munsch made over 500 trades in accounts owned by three Missouri investors. He has admitted that during some of the transactions, he was the only one to benefit. One investor, Marie Ganninger, says that she started investing with the former Stifel broker after her husband passed away. She chose to go with Munsch because he was the broker of one of her relatives. She will be getting back the commissions she paid.
The state of Missouri went after Stifel for failing to properly supervise Munsch and neglecting to notice or take action when he made unsuitable recommendations and excessive trades.
In 2007, the former Stifel broker entered into a consent order. He was ordered to pay $50,000 in investor restitution for broker misconduct, and his license was suspended. He retired and can no longer work as a broker in Missouri.
Please do not despair if you lost money because of broker fraud. There are legal remedies available that can allow you to recoup your investment losses.
Stifel to return $78,000 to investors, pay $130,000 in penalties, St. Louis Business, March 11, 2010
Consent order in the matter of Girard Augustus Munsch, Jr., State of Missouri Continue Reading ›

Even as Stifel Financial Corp. continues to deal with securities fraud lawsuits and claims accusing the broker-dealer of misrepresenting the risks associated with investing in auction-rate securities, the company exhibited a 73% increase in 3rd quarter earnings due to a growth in transaction revenue.

Its profit posted at $22.1 million, an increase from earlier this year when it’s posted profit was $12.8 million. Net revenue hit $289.7 million-a 32% increase. Principal transaction revenue went up 81%, hitting $123.2 million. Commissions went up to $90.9 million-that’s a 2.5% increase.

Stifel has been working to turn its business into a full-service investment bank and its subsidiary, Stifel, Nicolaus, & Co., recently completed its buy of 56 UBS Financial Services Inc. branches, which it purchased for at least $46 million. Stifel says the deal should increase the company’s earnings within the first year.

Former Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. and AXA Advisors broker Kenneth Neely has pled guilty to one count of mail fraud for setting up a Ponzi scheme that targeted at least 16 investors. Yesterday, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced that she has shut down the scam.

The 56-year-old St. Peters, Missouri broker got his clients to invest in a bogus St. Charles real estate investment trust. He promised high return rates and “no risk,” raising over $640,000 in investor funds. Federal prosecutors say clients paid about $3,000/share or unit.

At the time Neely was committing securities fraud (from 2001 – July 2009) he worked for broker dealers AXA Advisors and Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. He told clients to make checks payable to him and his wife.

Missouri Securities Law makes it illegal for a broker to “sell away,” which involves selling investments off a firm’s books.

Neely has 30 days to respond to Missouri’s cease-and-desist order. Federal brokers have barred him from working as a broker. Investor victims that lost some $400,000 included people that belonged to his church, friends, relatives, and acquaintances. Some people lost their savings because of the Ponzi scheme. Nealy used some of the money to pay for his personal expenses and debt.

Neely’s sentencing is scheduled for January 2010. He faces up to 20 years in prison, restitution, and up to $250,000 in fines.

Related Web Resources:
Carnahan Uncovers Ponzi Scheme in Saint Charles, SOS.Mo.Gov, November 4, 2009
St. Peters broker admits Ponzi scheme, St. Louis Business Journal, November 4, 2009
FINRA Permanently Bars Former Broker for Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc and AXA Advisors For Ponzi Scheme, Stockbroker Fraud Blog, August 3, 2009 Continue Reading ›

The Colorado Securities Division is suing Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. for securities fraud. State regulators are accusing the broker-dealer of making false assurances to investors about auction-rate securities.

In its Colorado securities fraud complaint, the securities division accused Stifel Nifel, Nicolaus of violating the Colorado Securities Act by allowing investors to think that their ARS-investments would always be liquid, failing to properly supervise sales team members, and making unsuitable investment recommendations to clients.

The Division claims that Stifel, in the role of underwriter, knew that there were liquidity risks linked to ARS but never let its sales force know about them. Stifel brokers allegedly compared ARS to money market funds on a regular basis and sold them as if they were appropriate for cash management purposes. Investors were told they would always be able to access their funds as if it were cash. However, when the ARS market collapsed in February 2008, the Colorado investors that purchased auction-rate securities were unable to get their funds or sell their bonds.

The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office filed an administrative complaint today accusing Stifel Nicolaus & Co.’s local office of securities fraud, failing to properly train members of its sales team, and failing to disclose risks associated with purchasing auction-rate securities. As a result, some 141 Hoosiers who had invested $54.0 million sustained losses when the ARS market fell apart last year and their securities were frozen.

92 of the ARS investors who were affected were Jeffrey Cohen’s clients. Cohen is the local Stifel office’s managing director. His clients had invested $45 million.

For violating the Indiana Securities Act, the broker-dealer could be ordered to pay a $10,000 fine/violation, as well as restitution to the securities fraud victims. Other states, including Colorado and Missouri, have made similar charges against Stifel Nicolaus.

Colorado’s securities regulator also filed its auction-rate securities complaint against Stifel Nicolaus today alleging that the broker-dealer failed to fully inform local investors about ARS risks. The securities fraud lawsuit also accuses the broker-dealer of violating the Colorado Securities Act, misrepresenting ARS as short-term investments that were liquid, and providing clients with unsuitable recommendations.

Missouri’s complaint, filed in March by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, claims that over 1,200 investors suffered losses when ARS worth $180 million were frozen.

Auction-Rate Securities
Many investors throughout the US were shocked to discover that the ARS they had purchased were not, as broker-dealers had told them, investments that were liquid like cash. Our stockbroker fraud law firm continues to work diligently with many ARS clients to recover their investments.

Related Web Resources:
Local Stifel office accused of securities fraud, IBJ, October 1, 2009
Colorado charges Stifel unit with ARS sales fraud, Reuters, October 1, 2009
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A former broker who was fired from both AG Edwards, Inc.and Stifel Nicolaus & Co. has been ordered to serve a 21-month federal prison sentence for selling fraudulent investments to Stifel Nicolaus clients. Neil Rolla Harrison told clients that they were investing in commodities futures or the gold market when in fact the stockbroker was using their money to support his drinking and gambling habits.

A federal grand jury indicted the 54-year-old former broker last May. Harrison pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud. He has been ordered to pay $91,303 in restitution.

It is not clear, however, whether the investment fraud victims will recoup their losses. One of his targets, 67-year-old Ralph Brock, says that because he has worked as a self-employed trucker for most of his life, the only retirement he had was the one he created through investing.

AG Edwards fired Harrison in 2005 after the broker-dealer discovered that he was borrowing money from clients. Stifel Nicolaus hired him soon after even though the broker-dealer knew that AG Edwards had fired him. Stifel Nicolaus fired Harrison when the thefts were discovered.

Brokers are entrusted with the responsibility of handling a client’s finances. Many investors seek the services of a stockbroker because they don’t have the knowledge and experience to make their own investments in a sound manner.

When a broker breaches that duty of care and money is lost it is usually the victims of securities fraud that suffer. This can be devastating-especially for the many clients who rely on their investments to get them through retirement or put their children through school. Any loss as a result of stockbroker fraud is unacceptable.

Related Web Resources:
Former stockbroker gets 21-month sentence, The Telegraph, September 18, 2009
Stifel broker gets jail time for scam, St. Louis Business Journal, September 18, 2009
United States Postal Inspection Service

Illinois Securities Department
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The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has permanently barred a former Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc. and AXA Advisors broker from operating. Kenneth George Neely has admitted to running a ponzi scheme involving clients of both broker-dealers, as well as friends, family members, and fellow church members.

According to federal regulators, Neely acted fraudulently when he induced at least 25 clients to take part in the “St. Louis Investment Club” and invest in “St Charles REIT. Both the investment club and the real estate investment trust are bogus.

To cover up the Ponzi scheme, Neely had investors issue payments to his wife in $2,000 and $3,000 increments so that banks wouldn’t get suspicious when funds were turned into cash. He also created bogus invoices that looked like official ownership certificates for REIT purchases. These certificates listed names of a “President” and a “Secretary” who were both fictitious. Neely promised investors that their investments would be taken care of.

For example, he promised one friend a high return rate on a bogus St. Charles REIT investment. The friend had invested $154,000. Neely would end up returning $10,000 to this person and using the rest of the funds to pay for some of his own personal expenses and debt.

He also persuaded a fellow church member to invest $35,000. He promised a 5% return rate. Small interest payments later dried up and Neely used the balance for his personal spending.

Neely improperly utilized over $600,000 of his investors’ assets. He converted over half the amount to his own use and returned about $300,000 to some investors.

It wasn’t until FINRA spoke with the St. Louis broker about his bogus real estate investment trust that he stopped collecting funds. AXA terminated his employment after he admitted what he’d done to FINRA.

FINRA enforcement chief Susan Merrill says that it is disturbing that in addition to taking advantage of clients at the brokerage firms where he’d worked, Neely also exploited relatives, friends, and acquaintances and took their “hard-earned savings.”

FINRA Permanently Bars Broker Operating Ponzi Scheme Involving Customers of Broker-Dealers, FINRA, July 27, 2009
Former AXA broker barred by FINRA for Ponzi scheme, Reuters, July 27, 2009 Continue Reading ›

According to Stifel Financial Corp., 95% of its clients with frozen auction-rate securities have indicated that they will accept its offer to buy back the investments over a three-year period. Missouri Securities Regulator and Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, however, continues to maintain that the buyback plan is inadequate.

She also disagrees with the broker-dealer’s claim that customers are endorsing the buyback plan by accepting it. Rather, she believes that it is the only option that Stifel has given clients that will allow them to get all of their funds back-and that means that many of them will have to wait three years. Carnahan noted that over 20 other broker-dealers were able to give their clients immediate relief.

Some 1,200 Stifel clients bought ARS before the market collapsed. The firm’s clients currently hold about $170 million in ARS. Some 40% of eligible accounts reportedly were to have received 100% liquidity by June 30. The remaining accounts are to obtain full liquidity by June 2012.

Stifel Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Ronald J. Kruszewski maintains that the broker-dealer did not know that the ARS market was in trouble until it collapsed. This is the main reason that Stifel has given for why it isn’t buying back their clients’ holdings in full the way other brokers have from their clients.

Carnahan’s office, however, alleges that Stifel was aware of the risks involved with investing in ARS and that the broker-dealer should have worked harder to protect investors. Her office sued Stifel in March 2009 over the way the firm marketed ARS and misled investors.

Related Web Resources:
Most Stifel clients accept auction rate securities buyback; Carnahan calls offer ‘inadequate’, St Louis Business Journal, June 23, 2009
Carnahan Sues Stifel Over Auction Rate Securities, iStockAnalyst, March 13, 2009
New Trouble in Auction-Rate Securities, The New York Times, February 15, 2008 Continue Reading ›

A former stockbroker that used to work for A.G. Edwards and Stifel Nicolaus has pleaded guilty to mail fraud. Neil R. Harrison, could spend up to 27 months behind bars-although his agreement to repay $85,739, cooperate with police, and lack of a criminal record could help him receive less than the 21-month minimum sentence. Harrison is accused of defrauding clients at two Illinois firms. He solicited investors to place their money in commodities futures and the gold market but instead used their funds for gambling. The mail fraud charge is based on a wire transfer confirmation mailed to a Stifel client.

While this may be Harrison’s first official brush with the law, he was let go from A.G. Edwards in 2005 for failing to cooperate with a probe regarding his efforts to get a loan from a client. A.G. Edwards filed the necessary securities documents regarding his firing. Even though Stifel Nicolaus was aware of Harrison’s background, the broker-dealer still hired him-with a special supervised agreement-just 10 days after A.G. Edwards terminated him.

Stifel would eventually fire the stockbroker in 2008 for “unethical and professional misconduct.” The broker-dealer accused Harrison of soliciting and getting money and personal loans from clients for fraudulent investments.

Per Harrison’s plea agreement: The ex-stockbroker persuaded clients to sign paperwork to open margin accounts without making sure that they had a good understanding of what these accounts were or the interest rates associated with them. He would then direct his broker-dealer to issue wire transfers to the investors’ checking accounts to replace money that was issued to him for the bogus investments. He also made material misrepresentations to clients and prospective investors. He told them they could make a lot of money but they would have to go outside the traditional brokerage account for diversity when making investments.

At least five investors were defrauded.

Related Web Resources:

Illinois Securities Department
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