The president of a Milltown financial advice company will pay $60,000 in fines and serve a 2½-year suspension from registration in Delaware.
The penalties were assessed on financial adviser Robert Brandon Prettyman for “making false and misleading statements” to the state securities regulator and “providing advisory services to clients while unregistered to do so.”
His Kirkwood Highway company, Summit Wealth Advisors, has a live website where the only person profiled is R. Brandon Prettyman. According to the site, he is a Delaware native and a graduate of Caravel Academy. “His choice to play college golf led him to Methodist University in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where he graduated with a business and finance degree.” He and his wife, Tina, live in Bear with their children, Shayne and Brantley, it says.
Work by the state agency involved, the Investor Protection Unit of the Delaware Department of Justice, allowed three Delaware investors to unwind their purchases of annuities and avoid collectively spending over $100,000 in commissions, along with tens of thousands of dollars in surrender charges, associated with those unwanted transactions.
The unit initiated an administrative matter against Prettyman in December 2021, alleging that, among other things, he had misrepresented in a sworn statement to the unit the reason a former employer had terminated him.
In June 2022, the presiding officer overseeing the matter found that Prettyman had made materially false and misleading statements to the unit.
Around the same time, the unit received additional information that led it to open a new investigation into four issues:
• Whether he continued to provide advisory services while unregistered.
• Whether his recommendations to former advisory clients regarding annuities were suitable under the circumstances.
• Whether his attempt to move client assets en masse was a breach of his fiduciary duties to those clients.
• Whether he acquired a Florida driver’s license in an attempt to avoid having to register in Delaware.
This settlement resolves both the administrative matter and the new investigation.
Financial professionals – who use various titles, such as broker and investment adviser – need to register at brokercheck.finra.org and adviserinfo.sec.gov.
Prettyman’s profiles on the two sites have similar information. He was terminated at Hornor, Townsend & Kent in Horsham, Pa., in 2019 “for violating member firm policy by use of copied signature pages to open multiple accounts for the same client and changing dates on client paperwork.” He also worked at Cambridge Investment Research, which has multiple offices, and Kovack Advisors in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“Protecting investors from unscrupulous financial professionals is at the core of investor protection,” said Attorney General Kathy Jennings. “Investors put a lot of trust into their investment professionals and it is important that the trust is deserved. This means that investment professionals may not mislead the very regulators tasked with monitoring them.”
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