LOSSES WITH FINANCIAL ADVISOR, JASON FIGUEROA, GMS GROUP LLC, ETFs, and EXCHANGE TRADED NOTES
Impending Investigation: Jason Figueroa, GMS Group LLC, ETFs, and Exchange Traded Notes
Have you lost money with financial advisor Jason L. Figueroa from Boca Raton, Florida? We are investigating allegations made by the FINRA (the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority) against Jason Figueroa. Figueroa was barred from the securities industry by FINRA after he used unsuitable trading of ETFs (exchange traded funds) and exchange traded notes.
Jason Figueroa was alleged to have recommended to his customers to hold leveraged and inverse ETFs for longer than one trading period (or one day), even though they are not meant to be held for longer than one trading period. Figueroa recommended that his clients invest in numerous inverse and leveraged ETFs like ProShares Ultra S&P 500, ProShares Ultrashort S&P 500, and Direxion ETF Daily Gold Mines Bull 3X. He also recommended that his clients invest in exchange traded notes, like the Barclays Ipath S&P 500 VIX Short Term Futures ETN, and the Credit Suisse Velocity Shares Daily Inverse VIX ETN. Figueroa recommended that his customers hold these securities for more than one day on at least 118 occasions.
Jason L. Figueroa was a financial advisor and registered representative of GMS Group LLC from April 2006 to April 2015. He worked in GMS Group’s Boca Raton, Florida branch office. Jason Figueroa was also the subject of at least seven customer complaints on his BrokerCheck report.
In a separate action, FINRA alleged that GMS Group LLC and Carmine Capone (Figueroa’s supervisor) failed to adequately supervise the conduct of Figueroa. To settle these allegations, GMS Group was fined $75,000, and Capone was fined $10,000 and suspended for 30 days in a principal capacity.
Inverse ETFs and Leveraged ETFs
ETFs (or Exchange Traded Funds) have become increasingly popular over the last 15 years. ETFs are typically used to track and replicate the performance of an index, such as the S&P 500, the Russell 2000, or the Dow Jones. ETFs are popular, because investors can invest in a basket of securities that provides diversification but with the simplicity of being a single stock.
In recent years, many companies have also created leveraged or inverse ETFs. Leveraged ETFs try to replicate the performance of a particular index, but attempt to replicate the performance by doubling or even tripling the index. As an example, the Proshares Ultra Russell 2000 ETF seeks to double the performance of the Russell 2000 Index.
Inverse ETFs also try to replicate the opposite (or even multiple opposites) of a particular index. For example, Ultrashort QQQ Shares seeks a return of two times the inverse (-2x) of the daily performance of the NASDAQ-100 Index. Leveraged and inverse ETFs can be useful investment tools for investors seeking intra-day trading.
However, inverse and leveraged ETFs are often misused, by retail investors and even financial advisors. The regulators and others have long-warned the securities industry about the dangers of inverse and leveraged ETFs. These are designed to be day-trading vehicles, but often financial advisors recommend holding these ETFs in an investor’s accounts for weeks or even months.
FINRA has stated that “inverse and leveraged ETFs that are reset daily typically are unsuitable for retail investors who plan to hold them for longer than one trading session, particularly in volatile markets.” See FINRA Regulatory Notice 09-31 at page 1. This Notice reminds members who sell these products to “make every effort to familiarize themselves with each customer’s financial situation, trading experience, and ability to meet the risks involved with such products and to make every effort to make customers aware of the pertinent information regarding the products.” Id. at 3, citing to NASD Notice To Members 05-26.
FINRA has punished other brokers and firms for using leveraged and inverse ETFs improperly. In an action against Michael Venable, FINRA barred a broker from the industry for using unsuitable leveraged and inverse ETFs with his clients. See In re Michael Douglas Venable. FINRA also fined Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, UBS, and Wells Fargo a combined $9.1 million for sales of inverse and leveraged ETFs, in May 2012.
Israels & Neuman PLC is a securities and investment fraud law firm with offices in Denver, Colorado and the Seattle area. We represent investors in FINRA arbitration proceedings in all 50 states, including investors in Florida. Our attorneys have represented over one thousand investors against many brokerage firms in the past, including LPL Financial, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, Smith Barney, Stifel Nicolaus & Company, UBS Financial Services, Oppenheimer, Charles Schwab, GMS Group LLC, Ameriprise Financial Services, Raymond James Financial Services, ProEquities, Securities America, National Securities Corp., and many others.
If your advisor recommended investments in leveraged or inverse ETFs or exchange traded notes that caused you losses, either through Jason Figueroa, GMS Group LLC, or another firm, contact Israels & Neuman, PLC for a FREE Consultation.
Denver Office: (720) 599-3505
Seattle Office: (206) 795-5798
Click to view: Figueroa FINRA AWC
Click to view: Figueroa BrokerCheck 10.24.15
Click to view: GMS FINRA AWC