ETFs (exchange traded funds) and ETNs (exchange traded notes) have recently gained a significant amount of attention in the securities industry. Securities fraud attorneys have been filing arbitration claims on behalf of investors who were unsuitably recommended ETFs or ETNs and suffered significant losses as a result. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has started to increase its efforts in regulating inverse ETFs and ETNs, hoping to ensure that unsophisticated investors are not being sold these complicated products.
In connection with FINRA’s efforts, UBS Financial Services, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. have agreed to pay $7.3 million in fines and $1.8 million in restitution, totaling $9.1 million. This will settle allegations that they sold inverse and leveraged ETFs to clients for which the investment was unsuitable. According to FINRA, these four firms did not have a “reasonable basis” for the recommendation of the securities to certain clients and also failed to provide adequate supervision. For more than a year, from January 2008 through June 2009, $27 billion in inverse ETFs were bought and sold by the firms.
With ETFs and ETNs now being recognized as a significant problem, we are likely to see more sanctions leveled by FINRA. According to stock fraud lawyers, the SEC ceased approving applications for ETFs in March 2010, when those ETFs used derivatives. Furthermore, the SEC indicated that it wanted to determine if leveraged and inverse ETFs warranted additional investor protection. There is concern, from both FINRA and the SEC, that inverse and leveraged ETFs are being confused with traditional, less risky ETFs.
According to securities fraud attorneys, the higher risk of leveraged and inverse ETFs is a result of the fact that they use leverage and compounding and they reset daily. Because of this, these investments’ performance can be significantly different from the underlying index’s performance.
If you suffered significant losses as a result of your investment in an inverse ETN or ETF that was unsuitable for you, you may have a valid securities arbitration claim. To find out more about your legal rights and options, contact a stock fraud lawyer at The Law Office of Christopher J. Gray at (866) 966-9598 for a no-cost, confidential consultation.