Andrew Jay Lowe of Centre Alabama a stockbroker formerly employed by Sterne Agee Financial Services LLC has been fined $20,000.00 and suspended for nine months from associating with any Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) member in any capacity based upon consenting to findings that he made unsuitable investment recommendations. Letter of Acceptance Waiver and Consent No. 2017056130301 (June 11, 2018).

According to the AWC, from January 1, 2012 to September 4, 2014, during the time Lowe was associated with Sterne Agee, he made recommendations for class A mutual fund shares to be bought by twenty-four customers. The AWC stated that Lowe’s activities included unsuitable short-term trading of those positions.

The AWC indicated that class A shares had been recommended by Lowe instead of class C shares because Lowe believed higher rates of return were possible on class A shares. Apparently, Lowe contended that class A shares were capable of providing higher returns in both better markets and down markets; however, Lowe also knew that the customers did not have long-term investment horizons; they needed income within one year.

The AWC stated that one-hundred eighty six liquidations of A shares had been placed by Lowe so that customers’ income needs could be addressed; yet, over fifty percent of those positions had not even been held for a twelve month period. FINRA stated that if customers purchased C shares during the time that they invested, it would have been more financially beneficial for them. Lowe apparently accumulated commissions totaling $36,180.87 based upon the transactions.

FINRA concluded that Lowe failed to have any adequate basis for concluding that his recommended strategy was suitable for customers based upon the recommended investments having been designed for long term investors. Ultimately, Lowe’s advice resulted in customers incurring undue fees. FINRA found that Lowe’s conduct was violative of FINRA Rules 2010, 2111 and National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Rule 2310.

FINRA Public Disclosure additionally reveals that a customer initiated investment related arbitration claim regarding Lowe’s conduct was resolved for $240,000.00 in damages founded on accusations including misrepresentation, fraud, breach of contract, negligence, breach of fiduciary duty, omissions, misrepresentations, suitability, and violation of FINRA and NASD rules concerning unit investment trust transactions executed in the customer’s investment account.

Lowe was later registered with Berthel, Fisher & Company Financial Services, Inc. between September 4, 2014 and November 1, 2017, at which point Lowe was discharged supported by allegations that he failed to make disclosures required by FINRA.

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