INVESTOR ALERT—If You Invested In A Variable Annuity Through Fifth Third Bank Between 2013-2015, Contact The Wolper Law Firm, P.A. To Discuss Your Legal Options
The Wolper Law Firm, P.A. is looking to speak with customers of Fifth Third Securities who were sold variable annuities between 2013 and 2015.
According to publicly available records released by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), on May 18, 2018, Fifth Third Securities entered into a regulatory settlement with FINRA, in which it agreed to:
- A “censure”
- A fine of “$4 million”
- An additional “$2 million” in restitution to customers
FINRA alleged that “during the Relevant Period, Fifth Third, through its registered representatives, negligently misstated and omitted material facts concerning the costs and benefits associated with customers VAs in the relevant VA Exchange paperwork. Approximately 77% of the Sample Set included at least one material misstatement or omission about the costs or benefits of the VAs at issue. The inaccurate information made the proposed VA Exchanges appear more beneficial to customers than was the case.”
FINRA alleged that Fifth Third Securities’ sales practices with regard to variable annuities violated the law because, among other things, the Financial Advisors selling the variable annuities “failed to have a reasonable basis to recommend or approve VA [variable annuity] exchanges.”
A variable annuity is complex hybrid financial and insurance product that offers investors a stream of income, tax deferment and a death benefit. The sub-accounts of an annuity are generally invested in mutual funds, the selection of which will dictate the potential performance of the annuity. While there are benefits of variable annuities, they are often outweighed by the risks and other features.
For example, variable annuities may include high annual management fees, surrender charges, lock-up periods, and mortality charges. In addition, it is commonly misunderstood that variable annuities offer guaranteed investment returns. They do not. Many financial advisors fail to disclose that investment returns may be impacted by market conditions.
Many financial advisors recommend annuities because they generate high sales commissions relative to other financial products. Unscrupulous financial advisors may also engage in annuity “switching,” which refers to the practice of selling one annuity and purchasing another. Often times the “switch” is justified by the financial advisor by suggesting that the annuity purchased has superior features when any such enhanced feature is actually outweighed by the cost of the “switch.”
The Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and FINRA have cautioned customers to be aware of “bonus credits” offered to financial advisors for selling certain variable annuity products
If you or someone you know purchased a variable annuity from Fifth Third Securities, please contact the Wolper Law Firm, P.A. at 800.931.8452 to discuss your specific situation and the legal options available. The Wolper Law Firm, P.A. represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration.
Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, P.A., is a trial lawyers who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities. Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters. His industry insight, experience and knowledge gives his clients a competitive advantage.