On March 13, 2018, FINRA barred JoeAnn Walker from associating with any FINRA member firms as of December 12, 2017. FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Inc.) registers and regulates stock brokers and brokerage firms.
FINRA stated in a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (“AWC”) that JoeAnn Walker was barred for allegedly failing to produce financial records in a FINRA investigation. FINRA was investigating Ms. Walker for possible unsuitable sales of variable annuities to her customer. Ms. Walker signed the AWC, which states she consented to the bar but did not admit or deny FINRA’s findings.
FINRA records report three other customers previously filed complaints against Walker:
- In March 2016, a customer complaint alleged Ms. Walker—without obtaining the customer’s authority—sold the customer’s stocks, purchased variable annuities that were unsuitable to the customer, and switched mutual funds. The customer alleged the transactions occurred between June 2014 and June 2015 and caused losses of $208,764. The claim was settled for $175,000.
- In 2005, a complaint alleged Ms. Walker caused a customer $30,000 of losses through excessive turnover in the customer’s account. The claim was settled for $9,900.
- In 1999, a complaint alleged Ms. Walker caused a customer to suffer losses by advising her to surrender a life fixed retirement annuity and use the proceeds to purchase a variable universal life insurance policy. That claim was settled for $14,379.
JoeAnn Walker entered the securities industry in 1992. She was registered as a General Securities Representative with LPL Financial LLC from August 2006 through April 2015 and with Next Financial Group, Inc. from April 2015 through October 2017. Ms. Walker is currently not associated with a firm registered with FINRA. While registered at LPL and Next Financial, Ms. Walker worked out of branch offices in Massachusetts.
Marquardt Law Office has also reported on Next Financial ex-broker Douglas Simanski who was barred by FINRA in June 2016 for allegedly not cooperating with an investigation into whether he stole his client’s funds. JoeAnn Walker and Douglas Simanski were two of 23 Next Financial brokers barred since 2008 for alleged misconduct occurring during their employment with Next Financial.
Unsuitable Variable Annuities and Excessive Trading
Rules and regulations require brokers, like JoeAnn Walker, recommend only suitable investment products and strategies to their customers. Suitability is based on factors such as a customer’s age, investment objective, risk tolerance, investment experience, and financial status and needs.
Variable annuities are very frequently unsuitable to investors because they are often loaded with hidden expenses and not easily converted into cash. They are particularly unsuitable to senior investors when they have far out maturity dates and expensive early termination fees. These products can generate brokers huge commissions.
Additionally, brokers are prohibited from excessively trading in customers’ accounts to generate fees and commissions for the brokers’ and their firms.
Moreover, brokerage firms, like LPL and Next Financial, have a duty to closely monitor and supervise their brokers’ conduct to ensure they follow securities rules and regulations. This includes ensuring their brokers recommend only suitable investment products and strategies and do not excessively trade. Firms violate security rules and duties owed to customers when they inadequately supervise their brokers.
When brokers and firms breach these duties owed to their customers, customers have a right to pursue claims to recover their losses caused by such misconduct.
If you have questions about your losses with JoeAnn Walker, contact Marquardt Law Office LLC to speak with a securities attorney and receive a free consultation.
Marquardt Law Office LLC is a securities law firm located in Chicago, IL representing clients nationwide who have suffered losses due to misconduct such as fraud and negligence.
 FINRA BrokerCheck reports that 19 of the 23 barred individuals were employed by Next Financial at the time activities occurred leading to the complaint initiating the case in which the individuals consented to being barred from associating with firms registered with FINRA (“FINRA Members”). BrokerCheck also indicates—based on the dates such as the dates of employment and FINRA bar—the other 4 individuals appear to have been employed by Next Financial at the time activities occurred leading to the complaint initiating the case in which the individuals consented to being barred from associating with FINRA Members.