As an investor, you need to be able to trust your brokerage firm. To do so, you must be aware of any past complaints that have been brought against your broker. At Sonn Law Group, we are committed to providing useful information to investors.
Here, our top-rated investment fraud attorneys review the investor and regulatory complaints that have been brought against United Planners Financial Services (CRD#: 20804), a Scottsdale, Arizona-based brokerage firm that is licensed to operate in 52 U.S. states and territories.
United Planners Financial Services: Customer Disputes and Regulatory Actions
Failure to Supervise Broker Use of Consolidated Reports
In September of 2016, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) censured United Planners Financial Services and fined the firm $225,000 for its failure to adequately supervise its representatives.
Specifically, the fine was issued because the firm failed to ensure that its brokers used consolidated reports in the proper manner. In industry terminology, a ‘consolidated report’ is a document that is provided by a broker to a customer that overviews a customer’s holdings. While these reports cannot be used as a replacement for full account statements, they can be useful.
When using consolidated reports, registered brokerage firms have a legal duty to ensure that all information contained on them is clear, accurate and that it is not presented in a materially misleading manner. Unfortunately, in this case, individual brokers at United Planners Financial Services were using consolidated reports in an extremely sloppy manner.
Far too often, they were giving reports to customers that contained outdated or wholly inaccurate information. This misconduct put its clients at risk, as inaccurate, incomplete and misleading information can result in investors making unwise decisions.
Variable Annuities: Unsuitable Investments
In July of 2012, FINRA fined United Planners Financial Services $200,000 for negligently recommending unsuitable investments to its clients. Along with the firm as a whole, registered investment advisor Douglas Hall (CRD No. 2577937) and an additional, undisclosed broker, were highlighted in the complaint.
According to FINRA’s Department of Enforcement, this misconduct involved the sale of complex variable annuities. During the time period covered in this case (2007 through 2009), variable annuities up made a large percentage of United Planners Financial Service’s total revenue, between 20 percent and 40 percent in each calendar year.
Yet, despite the prominence of variable annuities, the firm’s representatives repeatedly failed to review these transactions to ensure that they were truly suitability for investors. This is often an issue with variable annuities, as these financial products tend to come with large fees and certain holding requirements, which make them inappropriate for many retail investors.
Beyond the fine, FINRA also required United Planners Financial Services to put a supervisory system in place to ensure that potential unsuitable investment recommendations would be identified and fixed in the future.
Improper Sale of Unregistered Securities
The Securities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission determined that multiple representatives of United Planners Financial Services were improperly selling unregistered securities to unqualified buyers.
Specifically, broker Robert Scalzi (CRD#: 2133452), who has now been permanently barred from the securities industry, was found to have unlawfully sold unregistered securities to many different investors. In total, the firm was ordered to pay up to $150,000 in fines along with full financial restitution to affected investors.
Broker Misconduct at United Planners Financial Services
Beyond the examples of misconduct committed by the firm itself, there have also been many instances in which individuals brokers employed at United Planners Financial Services have committed fraud or acted in a negligent manner. For example, the firm recently terminated registered investment advisor (RIA) Eric Wayne Harding (CRD#: 2207823) for his failure to follow proper firm procedures.
If you have sustained losses working with a representative of United Planners Financial Services, and you believe that the individual broker committed fraud or acted negligently, you need to take action to protect your legal rights. All registered broker-dealers are legally responsible for the professional conduct of the representatives. You deserve full and fair compensation for your investment losses.
At Sonn Law Group, we have extensive experience handling complex investment fraud cases. Please call us today at 844-689-5754 or fill out our online contact form. We will review your claim for free and determine exactly what needs to be done to get you the fair recovery you deserve. From our main office in Aventura, FL, we represent investors in all 50 U.S. states.