An investment adviser cited Wednesday by the Massachusetts Securities Division for allegedly “grossly deceptive advertising” regarding initiatives to prepare people who might be vulnerable to Alzheimer’s disease for the financial impact of its treatment is vigorously denying any wrongdoing.
A lawyer for Armstrong Advisory Group, based in Needham, Mass, and its head, Barry Armstrong, said that, “As far as we know, the ad generated zero consumer complaints and it is unclear what has prompted the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office to pursue this matter.”
Timothy O. Egan, a Boston lawyer, said that 77 people responded to the ad, two people asked for additional information, but that no one purchased anything as a result of the ad, which was broadcast last July.
Egan said Armstrong and employees at his company “are scratching their heads” at the complaint.
The complaints were lodged just weeks after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosed that how broker-dealers and advisers work to ensure their clients are prepared for retirement will be the focus of a multi-year a multi-year examination initiative.
The examinations will evaluate such issues as whether registrants, advisers and broker-dealers, are selecting the appropriate account for their client and whether they are performing due diligence on investment options, the SEC said.
Egan said Armstrong is “disappointed” by the actions taken by the Massachusetts Securities Division, and that he is a “sincere and passionate about the fight against Alzheimer’s Disease as he has personal experience with the impact the disease has on loved ones and their families.”
Armstrong was motivated by his personal experiences, and has “endeavored to provide the public with valuable information about the disease and sound financial strategies that families can consider to protect themselves in the event they become a direct or collateral victim of the disease,” Egan said.
“This is precisely what the ad offers and what Armstrong provided,” Egan said, and the Alzheimer’s campaign “resulted in dozens of interested listeners receiving valuable information about the disease that was prepared and approved by the National Institute on Aging.”
The Massachusetts Securities Division filed the complaint against Securities America, a broker-dealer based in Nebraska, as well as Armstrong, a registered adviser based in Needham.
The complaint alleged misleading advertising aimed at potentially vulnerable seniors.
The complaint against Securities America, a broker-dealer subsidiary of Ladenburg Thalman Financial Services, Inc., alleges a failure to properly supervise Armstrong and his group.
Securities America did not respond to requests for comment.
The administrative complaint seeks a cease and desist order, a censure of the company, an order requiring Securities America to obtain an independent compliance consultant, and an administrative fine.
The complaint alleges that Armstrong “ran a grossly deceptive radio advertising campaign targeted at vulnerable Massachusetts senior citizens.”
The complaint against Armstrong seeks a cease-and-desist order, censure and a fine.
No one responded to request for comment from Securities America.
Armstrong is also the host of a radio show which airs on numerous AM radio stations, according to William P. Galvin, Massachusetts securities administrator. Armstrong wrote and voiced the ads, Galvin said.
The complaint said the Alzheimer’s ads implied that the agent is an individual with access to special medical and support information.
“He is neither — he is a financial professional looking to grow his business with senior clients,” the complaint said.
This is not the first time Armstrong has had difficulty because of his radio show. He was dropped by a broker in 2003 because the firm said Armstrong and others had made statements on the radio show that were in violation of the firm’s policies, according to FINRA.
InsuranceNewsNet Washington Bureau Chief Arthur D. Postal has covered regulatory and legislative issues for more than 30 years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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