Investigating Claims of Financial Misconduct by Atlanta Stockbroker Chris Kirkland

As a financial analyst and writer, I’m following a developing story out of Atlanta, Georgia with a discerning eye. Chris Kirkland, also known as Christopher Nelson Kirkland, a stockbroker with Avantax Investment Services and associated with other entities like Resurgence Investments and Legacy Capital Advisors, is facing an investigation. His finance history includes tenures at respected institutions such as LPL Financial, Ameriprise Financial Services, and IFG Advisory, which you can learn more about here.

Rising Concerns Over Inappropriate Investment Guidance

I’ve discovered that Kirkland is at the heart of several customer complaints involving improper investment advice, particularly in structured notes—an area I advise clients to approach with caution. One case involved a client of Avantax Investment Services receiving a $284,000 settlement in January 2024, after raising accusations of inappropriate investment advice from Kirkland regarding structured notes. Another ongoing case seeks substantial damages, alleging similar advice on structured notes coupled with trades that were allegedly made without the customer’s consent.

When we talk about unauthorized trading, we’re referring to actions taken in a client’s account without their explicit approval—a critical boundary that, when crossed, can carry severe repercussions for a financial advisor.

FINRA’s Oversight and Its Significance

Amid these accusations, the significance of FINRA—the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority—can’t be overstated. This body supervises brokers and brokerage firms, working to ensure commitment to fair and honest practices. As per FINRA’s regulations, brokers must disclose customer complaints and disputes, as outlined here. Although Kirkland hasn’t faced sanctions from FINRA to date, Avantax Investment Services, his current employer, has not been without its share of scrutiny.

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Investor Impact and the Trust at Stake

For investors, these potential breaches of FINRA’s rules can undermine the very trust on which the financial markets operate. There’s a famous quote by Warren Buffett, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Allegations can have a ripple effect, casting doubt across the investor community and damaging the fiduciary relationship that’s crucial to thriving markets.

FINRA’s existence and it’s critical rules, particularly Rule 2111 which centers on investment suitability, are there to safeguard investors. Despite the ongoing investigation, it’s worth noting that Kirkland remains capable of facing a lawsuit under FINRA arbitration. Should the claims of recommending unsuitable investment products be confirmed, both Kirkland and Avantax Investment Services could be held accountable for any resulting financial damages, alleging negligence or fraud.

Updates will undoubtedly emerge as the investigation unfolds and the allegations are formally addressed, which you can follow here. Instances like this serve as a reminder for all investors to remain vigilant regarding their investments, practicing due diligence in understanding who is managing their funds and the strategies they employ.

Bear in mind this financial fact: a recent survey revealed that more than 10% of financial advisors have been subject to formal complaints or misconduct allegations. This reinforces the importance of verifying an advisor’s background and credibility, including checking their FINRA BrokerCheck for any blemishes on their record.

To protect your financial future, you should always be proactive, informed, and discerning about who you trust with your investments. It’s my job, and your right, to never leave your financial wellbeing to chance.

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