Articles Tagged with Alternative Investments

Texas Stockbroker Purportedly Earned High Commissions From Illiquid Alternative Investments

If you are an investor who was sold alternative investments by First Allied Securities broker William Fox, you may have grounds for an investor claim. Fox, an Austin, TX-based registered representative, has been accused by at least one customer, who already filed a Financial Industry Reguinveslatory Authority (FINRA) claim, of not performing the proper due diligence before recommending that the claimant invest over $2M in retirement funds in illiquid, poor quality alternative investments. 

This included nontraded real estate investment trusts (nontraded REITs), annuities, private placements, equipment leasing, and oil and gas investments. The sale of these investments to the claimant resulted in Fox earning $140K in commissions and an investment advisory fee. 

Another Kalos Capital Broker Sold GPB Investments To Investors

Once again, our GPB investment lawyers at Shepherd Smith Edwards and Kantas (SSEK Law Firm) have filed an investor fraud lawsuit against Kalos Capital and one of its brokers, Kristian Finfrock. 

In this latest broker fraud case, the Claimants are a retired couple who contend that Kalos Capital broker and investment advisor, Kristian Finfrock, pushed them into placing $750K of their life savings into alternative investments including non-traded real estate investment trusts (Non-traded REITs), annuity contracts, and GPB Capital private placements. 

National Financial Services Customers Have 60 Days To Transfer GPB Investments 

Five months after announcing that investors of GPB Capital Holdings private placements would no longer be carrying these alternative investments (AI) on its platform, National Financial Services (NFS) is sending letters to customers notifying them that they have 60 days after January 14, 2020, to transfer their GPB Holdings II securities. 

The GPB Holdings II securities must be transferred to another custodian broker or their alternative investment (AI) positions will be registered directly in their name. This is one of the larger GPB private placement funds that, as of June, had reported a 25.4% drop in value. National Financial Services (NFS) is a Fidelity Investments clearing and custody unit. 

Texas-Based Brokerage Firm Accused of Inadequate Supervision Involving VA Exchanges
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority is ordering IMS Securities Inc. to pay a $100K fine. The Texas-based brokerage firm is accused of failures related to its monitoring of variable annuity exchanges. By settling, however, it is not denying or admitting to the allegations. 
According to the self-regulatory authority, the firm exhibited inadequate supervisory procedures for “problematic rates of exchange” in transactions involving variable annuities. FINRA claims that from 7/ 15/13 through 7/8/14, IMS Securities depended on its CFO to review annuity exchanges but did not provide tools or guidance to help look for “problematic rates of exchange.”  The broker-dealer is accused of not probing possibly “problematic patterns” of VA exchanges and not enforcing written supervisory procedures related to consolidated reports. 

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority has put out a new investor alert warning about advertisements that are marketing higher-than-average CD yields. The self-regulatory authority says that some of the ads might be an attempt to get investors to buy a much more much more expensive investment, such as a fixed or equity-indexed annuity, that is not risk free. Often, the alternative investments are insurance products.

FINRA warned that with most CD promotions that are marketing ploys, an investor would be required to go to an office or talk to a salesperson, who may try to convince the prospective buyer to purchase an alternative product that is not a CD. Typically, the minimum purchase amount is high, such as $25K. Such ploys would also tout a “bonus”-a sum the salesperson would pay you plus the average percentage yield of the CD. FINRA warns that this bonus is actually an incentive to get you to hear the pitch for the more complex product. Meantime, the seller may be earning a high commission for making the sale.
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Investors are accusing brokerage firms of making inappropriate recommendations and selling investments in Icon Leasing Fund Eleven, LLC and Icon Leasing Fund Twelve, LLC to them even though they would not be able to withstand the high risks. The two funds are registered, non-traded Equipment Leasing Direct Participation Programs (DPPs).

Not only are the Icon Eleven and Icon Twelve investments very high risk and illiquid investments, but also there are little if any secondary markets where their shares can be sold. Investment dividends from Icon cannot be predicted because they are contingent upon profits made from equipment leases.

During their offering periods, the two funds started paying distributions. However, not long after Icon Eleven and Twelve stopped taking new investors, the investments’ value started to drop fast and dividend payments became inconsistent. The decline has resulted in significant financial losses for investors.

FINRA says that LPL Financial, LLC must pay a fine of $950,000 for supervisory deficiencies involving the sale of alternative investment products, such as oil and gas partnerships, non-traded real estate investment trusts, managed futures, hedge funds, and other illiquid pass-through investments. By settling, the independent broker-dealer is not denying or admitting to the FINRA charges. LPL however, has agreed to an entry of the self-regulatory agency’s findings.

A lot of alternative investments establish concentration limits and certain states have even stipulated their own concentration limits for alternative investment investors. LPL also has set its own limits.

According to FINRA, however, from 1/1/08 to 7/1/12 LPL did not properly supervise the sale of alternative investments that violated of concentration limits. The SRO contends that even though initially LPL employed a manual system to assess if an investment was in compliance with requirements for suitability, the brokerage firm sometimes relied on inaccurate and dated data. Later, when LPL put into place a system that was automated to conduct the reviews, the system was purportedly not updated to make sure current suitability standards were correctly reflected and the programming in the database was flawed.

Even as alternative mutual funds have become very popular among financial advisers and investors These investments employee a variety of complex investment strategies and opportunities to create portfolio diversification that are supposed to protect clients from steep market drops. Already, billions of dollars have gone into these funds in recent years. Their total assets, at around $234 billion right now, are a 33% increase from last year. However, just because so many people are interested in alternative mutual funds doesn’t mean they are good for the average investor.

According to The New York Times, there are some financial advisers who are cautioning customers to exercise great care for the same reason that a lot of investors decide not to go with traditional mutual funds that are actively managed-because it is tough to identify which alternative investment managers are talented/skilled enough to do the job right and which ones could end up getting lucky.

Also, it can be hard enough comprehending any fund prospectus. Multi-alternative funds have hedge-fund-like strategies and managed futures. Then, there are the nontraditional bond funds, which trade on anticipating what bonds will do next and hedging risks linked to rates. Seeing as it is important for investors to be able to comprehend what they are getting into, alternative mutual funds might not be the best choice for the average investor.

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