Finra bans former Prudential broker for deceptive variable annuity sales

Winston Wade Turner misrepresented facts in high-cost annuity transactions

Jul 11, 2016 @ 12:40 pm

By Christine Idzelis

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority Inc. has banned a broker from the securities industry for making unsuitable variable annuity recommendations while employed at Prudential Financial Inc. and MetLife Inc.

Winston Wade Turner deceived his customers by fraudulently misrepresenting and omitting material facts about the sales, according to a Finra document dated July 8. He also hid that he convinced many customers to surrender existing variable annuities, and in some cases, sell other investments, in order to fund their purchases of new variable annuities he was recommending, according to the document.

Exchanging annuities requires additional supervisory scrutiny because of their relatively high commissions and costs, according to Finra. Pruco Securities Inc., a brokerage unit of life insurer Prudential, terminated Mr. Turner's employment in August 2015 because of the deceptive sales practices.

“[Mr.] Turner's unethical and dishonest actions, and his willingness to take unfair advantage of customers who placed their trust in him, demonstrate that he is unfit to remain in the securities industry,” Finra said in the July 8 document.

In November 2012, Mr. Turner got a customer to transfer $108,000 of retirement assets into a MetLife variable annuity, falsely assuring her that she'd earn 4.5% a year, according to the document. In fact, there was no guaranteed annual return. He scheduled monthly withdrawals at a 4.5% annual rate, deceiving the customer into thinking she was getting an investment return when really she was diminishing the value of her account, according to Finra.

In another example of misconduct in mid-December 2013, Mr. Turner convinced a customer to purchase a Prudential variable annuity funded by the surrender of a MetLife variable annuity that he'd sold to her just six months earlier, according to Finra. He indicated that the customer didn't have any existing annuities, though in January 2014 she paid a surrender charge of more than $27,000.

Mr. Turner entered the securities industry in 2011, when he joined MetLife in Atlanta, Ga. He moved to Pruco's office in Sarasota, Fla., in July 2013, according to Finra's BrokerCheck.

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