Massachusetts regulator subpoenas Wall St firms over sales to seniors

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 10, 2013 11:36 AM

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts' chief securities regulator has hit top Wall Street firms with a blanket of subpoenas, saying he fears elderly people are being targeted for high-risk, alternative investment products.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin said on Wednesday subpoenas have gone out to a group of firms including Morgan Stanley, UBS AG, Fidelity Investments, Bank of America Corp's Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo & Co, TD Ameritrade and Charles Schwab Corp.

Galvin said a recent investigation into real estate investment trusts heightened his concern that elderly investors were being targeted with products too complex for them to understand the underlying risks.

"While these products are not unsuitable in and of themselves, they are accidents waiting to happen when they are sold to inexperienced investors by untrained agents who push the products to score the large commissions associated with alternative investments," Galvin said in a press release.

Alternative investments cited by Galvin included REITs, oil and gas partnerships and private placement offerings.

(Reporting By Tim McLaughlin and Ross Kerber; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Gunna Dickson)