Ameritas Investment Company, LLC (“Ameritas Investment”) (CRD# 14869) has many different complaints filed by FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority), state regulatory organizations, and investors such as yourself. At the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, we have investigated Ameritas Investment, its regulatory and customer complaints, and have also represented investors with claims of fraud, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty against this organization and its financial advisors.
If you believe you have a claim against Ameritas Investment, you should strongly consider hiring an investment loss lawyer. You should not wait until it’s too late to file a claim. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., offers free consultations. Give us a call at 800-732-2889. Let’s discuss your case and see what we can do to help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Can I Sue Ameritas Investment Company?
If you’ve lost money caused by Ameritas Investment and/or its employees’ misconduct then the answer is, YES, you can sue Ameritas Investment but the odds are you signed away your right to sue in court and agreed to resolve your dispute in a FINRA arbitration proceeding. Attorney Robert Wayne Pearce has over 40 years of personal experience in FINRA arbitration proceedings and knows very well how you can not only sue Ameritas Investment in FINRA arbitration proceedings, but WIN that arbitration. The easiest way to know if you have a viable case against Ameritas Investment is to call Attorney Pearce at our office at 800-732-2889.
What is Ameritas Investment Company, LLC?
Ameritas Investment (CRD# 14869) was first approved as a broker-dealer by the SEC and FINRA in 1984. It subsequently registered with the SEC as an investment advisor in 1998. Since then there has been a name change and restructuring. The company is controlled by Ameritas Life Insurance Corp. and Ameritas Mutual Holding Company, and is headquartered in Lincoln, Nebraska. Its independent broker-dealer Business Model has grown through acquisition and organic development of primarily one and two person registered representative offices supervised remotely. Today there are over 400 Ameritas Investment branch offices with over 1100 registered representatives in every state. It is 1 of the larger broker-dealer and investment advisory firm in the United States.
Ameritas Investment Company Has Many Different Regulatory Problems
Ameritas Investment Company’s rapid growth has not been without consequences. There have been approximately 20 Federal, state and self-regulatory body disclosure events; that is, final and formal proceedings initiated by a regulatory authority (e.g., a state or federal securities agency like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or self-regulatory body like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) ) for a violation(s) of investment-related rules or regulations. In addition, there have been hundreds of customer complaints filed against Ameritas Investment for misconduct by its securities sales and investment advisory representatives that are not reported by the firm on its Central Depository Record.
We have reported and written about these regulatory problems and customer complaints over many years. Ameritas Investment is a repeat offender: there are over 8 SEC and FINRA reported disciplinary proceedings citing the firm with one form of supervisory lapses or another in the last decade.
A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF SOME OF THE REGULATORY PROBLEMS AMERITAS INVESTMENT COMPANY HAS FACED OVER THE YEARS*
Ameritas Investment has been repeatedly censured, warned, and fined millions for its own misconduct and failure to supervise its army of financial advisors.* A few of the notable FINRA Sanctions for its Supervisory Failures are below:
SEC Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Mutual Fund Sales Abuse And Orders Over $3.3 Million In Disgorgement To Customers
The SEC sanctioned Ameritas Investment for breaches of fiduciary duty and inadequate disclosures by registered investment adviser in connection with its mutual fund share class selection practices and the fees it received pursuant to Rule 12b-1 under the Investment Company Act of 1940 (“12b-1 fees”). During the relevant period, the SEC found that Ameritas Investment purchased, recommended, or held for advisory clients mutual fund share classes that charged 12b-1 fees instead of lower-cost share classes of the same funds for which the clients were eligible. Respondent received 12b-1 fees in connection with these investments. Further, that Ameritas Investment failed to disclose in its Form ADV or otherwise the conflicts of interest related to (a) its receipt of 12b-1 fees, and/or (b) its selection of mutual fund share classes that pay such fees. During the Relevant Period, Respondent received 12b-1 fees for advising clients to invest in or hold such mutual fund share classes. As a result, Ameritas Investment was ordered to cease-and-desist from this misconduct, and to pay customers disgorgement with interest in excess of $3.3 million.
FINRA Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Violating Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board Rules
FINRA investigated and found that during the relevant period that Ameritas Investment provided underwriting services for a municipal issuer with which it had an active “blanket” financial advisory agreement, and thereby acted simultaneously as the issuer’s financial advisor and its underwriter. FINRA concluded that this conduct of Ameritas violated MSRB Rule G-23 and then censured and fined the company for that violation.
FINRA Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Variable Annuity Supervisory Lapses
FINRA investigated and found that Ameritas Investment failed to establish, maintain, and enforce an adequate supervisory system and written supervisory procedures (“WSPs”) related to the sale of multi-share class variable annuities (“VAs”). Further, that Ameritas Investment also failed to establish, maintain, and enforce a supervisory system that was reasonably designed to achieve compliance with F1NRA Rule 2121 (Fair Prices and Commissions). As a result of the foregoing conduct, FINRA concluded that Ameritas Investment violated FINRA Rule 2330(d), NASD Rule 3010, FINRA Rule 3110, and FINRA Rule 2010 and then it censured and fined the company.
SEC Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Underwriting Abuses
The SEC sanctioned Ameritas Investment for violations of an antifraud provision of the federal securities laws in connection with its underwriting of certain municipal securities offerings. The SEC found that Ameritas Investment, a registered broker-dealer, conducted inadequate due diligence in certain offerings and as a result, failed to form a reasonable basis for believing the truthfulness of certain material representations in official statements issued in connection with those offerings. This resulted in Ameritas Investment offering and selling municipal securities on the basis of materially misleading disclosure documents. As a result of the conduct described herein, Respondent willfully violated Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act and for which it was censured and fined.
FINRA Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Not Supervising Equity-Indexed Annuity Transactions
FINRA investigated and found that, for more than two years, Ameritas Investment did not adequately supervise recommendations to liquidate securities in order to purchase equity-indexed annuities (“EIAs”), nor did Ameritas Investment record the resulting transactions. Instead, Ameritas’s Investment, without adequate supervision, mistakenly treated those recommendations and transactions as outside business activities.
As a result, FINRA concluded that Ameritas Investment violated NASD Rule 3010(a) and FINRA Rules 2010, 3110(a), 3270, and 4511(a) and censured the brokerage firm and fined it $145,000.
FINRA Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Not Supervising Representatives Who Misappropriated Customer Funds
FINRA investigated Ameritas Investment and found that it did not detect that one of its representatives sought to change a customer’s address of record to the address of the representative’s branch office, then requested disbursements from the customer’s account to her new address of record. As a result, Ameritas Investment sent $34,000 from the customer’s account to the representative’s branch, where he misappropriated the money. FINRA concluded that Ameritas Investment by failing to adequately monitor and otherwise supervise the representative’s activity, AIC violated NASD Rules 2110, 3010(a) and (b), and 3012(a)(2)(B) and imposed a censure and a fine upon the company.
FINRA Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Cheating UIT Customers Out Of Sales Discounts
FINRA conducted an investigation into Ameritas Investment’s Unit Investment Trust (“UIT”) sales practices and discovered that the brokerage failed to apply sales charge discounts to certain customers’ eligible purchases of UITs in violation of FINRA Rule 2010. In addition, FINRA found that Ameritas Investment failed to establish, maintain and enforce a supervisory system and written supervisory procedures reasonably designed to ensure that customers received sales charge discounts on all eligible UIT purchases in violation of NASD Conduct Rule 3010 and FINRA Rule 2010. As a result, FINRA censured and fined Ameritas Investment for the misconduct.
FINRA Sanctions Ameritas Investment For Not Reviewing Misleading Financial Plans Of Representatives
In the course of one of its investigations, FINRA discovered that Ameritas Investment, through one registered representatives used communications with the public in the form of written financial plans, which contained misleading statements and omitted material information. The plans were created by the representative who provided them to customers. FINRA found that Ameritas Investment failed to ensure that the communications were approved by a registered principal at the firm prior to use with customers, and failed to file the communications with FINRA. As a result, FINRA concluded that Ameritas Investment violated NASD Rules 2210, IM-2210-2, 2220, and 2110. In addition, FINRA found that Ameritas Investment failed reasonably to supervise the activities of 1 of its representatives in communicating communications with the public and her recommendations to fund the purchase of securities with proceeds from mortgage transactions. As a result, FINRA concluded that Ameritas Investment violated NASD Rules 3010(a) and 2110, and, once again, censured the brokerage firm and imposed a fine.
*Above are only some of the regulatory disciplinary actions filed against Ameritas Investment Company by FINRA. NASSA and other state securities regulator investigations and enforcement actions account for another 12 more BrokerCheck disclosures.
Ameritas Investment Company Customer Complaints
There have been scores of customer complaints filed against Ameritas Investment Company stockbrokers and investment advisors over the years. We have launched many investigations of current and former Ameritas Investment advisors:
If you have lost money investing with any of these Ameritas Investment Company advisors or others within this brokerage firm, it’s important that you reach out to an investment loss attorney quickly because the statutes of limitations can bar your claims. Call us at 800-732-2889.
Why Does Ameritas Investment Company Have So Many Regulatory Problems And Customer Complaints?
Independent broker-dealers are notorious for their lax supervisory practices and procedures. The business model of these franchise type operations is to open many offices nationwide for steady growth of fixed monthly revenues without the costs attendant to a full-service branch office with on-site manager, compliance officer and operation personnel. The registered representatives of these independent broker-dealers generally operate as separately incorporated businesses. They are not employees of the broker-dealer and therefore not controlled in the same manner as full-service brokerage firm representatives. The registered representatives control their structure and costs to maximize profits and often leave the protection of investors’ rights and interests as their lowest priority.
The typical supervisory organization of independent broker-dealer operations is to have other independent contractors operate Offices of Supervisory Jurisdiction (OSJs) to monitor the registered representatives from geographically remote offices and then report to the main franchisor’s compliance office at national headquarters. The supervisors at the OSJs are not employees of the franchisor and often run their own brokerage, insurance and other businesses. They are not devoted full-time supervisors of the smaller branch offices. Consequently, OSJ managers cannot and do not supervise the day-to-day operations of the registered representatives of these Independent broker-dealers.
Generally, there is no immediate review of new accounts opened, securities transactions, business records, cash or securities receipts and deliveries, correspondence and business activities unrelated to the securities brokerage operation at these independent brokerage firms. The lax supervision leaves investors who have transferred their accounts to the smaller independent broker-dealer vulnerable to sales of securities that have not been reviewed or authorized by anyone other than the sales representative earning a commission. There may be no one onsite to detect forgeries of clients’ signatures on documents, the placement of inaccurate information about a client’s investment objectives and financial condition to document the suitability of a particular investment recommendation. Oftentimes there is no daily review of sales literature and client correspondence to protect against misrepresentations and misleading statements being made to investors. In fact, it is not unusual for there to be only one compliance audit visit per year at many of these offices.
These Independent brokerage business operations are worrisome to the North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA), which has documented more instances of sales abuse and consequently investor losses at these firms than the traditional brokerage firms with branch offices with on-site managers and compliance personnel.
Did Ameritas Investment Company Advisor Misconduct Cause You Investment Losses?
When financial advisor misconduct has caused you to lose substantial value to your investment accounts, you have the right to seek reimbursement from the responsible parties. Ameritas Investment is responsible like any employer for its financial advisors acts and omissions. In addition, it has an independent duty to supervise its stockbrokers and investment advisors. These cases can be extremely complex, and so having the support of a reputable attorney who is experienced in recovering investment losses for investors is key to your success. Many customers make the mistake of contacting Ameritas Investment without representation with an attorney about their complaints and have their complaints denied.
Consult With An Attorney Who Recovers Investment Losses Caused By Ameritas Investment Company Today!
The attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., have helped countless investors over the last 40 years recover the losses from their investment accounts that were caused by broker negligence or misconduct. The firm has extensive experience with Ameritas Investment Company cases, and Attorney Pearce is committed to seeing that those responsible for the losses you have suffered are held fully accountable.
Give us a call at 800-732-2889. Let’s discuss your case and see what we can do to help you get the compensation you need and deserve.