Imagine that you have woken up every day for eight years enjoying your secure retirement. Then, one day, you learn that the retirement portfolio you thought you owned, the foundation for your financial security, has vanished. This is exactly what happened to some unlucky Verizon retirees who trusted Richard Cody and his wife with their retirement portfolios, according to the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission.
According to settlement papers signed with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) for IFS Securities failed to conduct adequate due diligence on PGC, a lender planning to finance real estate flipping in Michigan, before 76 clients invested over $3.25 million in this speculative startup.
IFS Securities, Inc. (“IFS Securities” or the “firm”) of Atlanta, Georgia was censured and fined for selling corporate bonds to its customers with unreasonable markups given market conditions.
The Atlanta broker-dealer earns a large portion of its revenue from buying and selling corporate bonds. Like any other investment, there are rules governing the sale of bonds. For instance, a registered broker can charge more than the prevailing market price of a bond in order to cover his expenses and time for managing the transaction; this is commonly referred to as a markup. However, brokers must sell bonds at a “fair and reasonable price” in relation to current market conditions.
If you’re reading this article, there is a good chance you invested in or through an entity that is now in receivership, and you probably have a lot of questions! The purpose of this article is to give you a general overview of how receiverships work so you know what to expect. Every receivership is different, but every receivership goes through four overlapping stages: 1) stabilization; 2) investigation; 3) litigation; and 4) distribution.
These four stages all support the overarching goal of every receivership—the orderly winding down of a business in a manner that maximizes value for investors.
We will come back to these four stages in a minute, but first it is important to understand the background context that gives rise to a receivership.
Some investor claims are easy to see, such as when money is simply missing from an account or a financial advisor has been arrested for securities fraud. In other cases, a financial advisor has been negligent. The financial advisor did not commit fraud, but he did make mistakes that caused investment losses. These cases are more difficult for an investor to spot. Here are the three things we see in most of the investor claims we file against financial advisors for malpractice or negligence.
Financial advisors love to sell variable annuities. The reason is simple—commissions of up to 8%. If a financial advisor can sell you a $200,000 variable annuity, that means commissions of up to $16,000. Not bad for a day’s work!
Unfortunately, commissions are just about the only thing that is simple about variable annuities.
The one reason why variable annuities are almost always a bad idea is that they are too complicated for ordinary investors (and normal people in general) to understand. Seriously, have you ever tried to read a variable annuity policy? Here is just one example from an actual policy. Try to stay awake through this, because there is a lot more you urgently need to know about variable annuities:
If your financial advisor has caused investment losses, you may want to sue your financial advisor. For better or for worse, you may instead be forced out of court and into a FINRA arbitration. This post explains why securities litigation frequently ends up in FINRA arbitration, and what you can expect from the FINRA arbitration process.