The Cold Spring Advisory Group claims to be an investment loss recovery firm. They are a non-attorney representative company, also called NAR, and have been working since 2013.
They are based in New York. Their address is 445 Park Ave, New York, NY 10022.
They make many claims about their experience, however, they have a shady past which they try to hide from you.
In the following Cold Spring Advisory review, you’ll find out why this firm might not be suitable for you and why it would be best to avoid working with them:
Who Owns Cold Spring Advisory Group
The main person behind is Michelle Ottimo. She’s the wife of Louis Ottimo, a consultant to the Cold Spring Advisory Group. FINRA, the financial regulatory authority in the US, had barred Louis Ottimo from the sector in 2015.
In other words, Louis Ottimo can’t operate as a broker or associate with a broker-dealer firm. It’s illegal for him to do so.
Louis Ottimo lost his license to operate as a financial advisor because he lied in his disclosure forms. He filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2016.
Another person working at the Cold Spring Advisory Group is Frederick Amato. He faced a count of bookmaking in Florida in 1999 and was convicted for gambling and misdemeanor.
Most service providers are glad to share information about their team and owners. It creates transparency and helps them seem reliable.
But that’s not the case with the Cold Spring Advisory Group.
Their website’s ‘About Us’ page shares no information about its ownership or the people behind the operation. All you’ll see is a bunch of paragraphs saying nothing but fluff.
This is a huge red flag.
If they were great at what they do, why would they hide their faces? Especially, when they are service providers. How can you trust an arbitration specialist if you can’t even learn about their past experience or even their name?
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However, it’s obvious why Cold Spring Advisory doesn’t even mention the names of its owners. It doesn’t want you to find out the truth about its past.
After all, Louis Ottimo’s FINRA BrokerCheck is one Google search away.
It puts the intent of the Cold Spring Advisory Group in question. Do they really care about their clients if they don’t even bother to maintain transparency?
Shouldn’t their clients be made aware of their owners’ past?
Actual Cold Spring Advisory Group Reviews 2021:
There are many people complaining about their poor experience with the Cold Spring Advisory Group. For example, a person had paid them $7,000 because they had told them the case was solid. However, the case didn’t result in a victory and all the fees they had paid went to waste.
Another review faced a similar problem when they hired Cold Spring Advisory. They thought the so-called experts at this firm would help them but they ended up losing more money via fees. Cold Spring Advisory had charged them $12,500.
It didn’t surprise me to find such reviews. Cold Spring Advisory doesn’t have an attractive track record. By 2018, Cold Spring was a part of 27 arbitration awards. However, 19 of them were ‘zero’ awards for the client.
The eight cases in which Cold Spring had won something, only one was against a broker that was still operational. The rest were against defunct brokers or those who had left the industry.
In other words, out of 27 cases, they only had one meaningful victory.
That’s a success rate of ~3.7%. Certainly, Cold Spring isn’t among the brightest of the companies.
What’s bothersome is that Cold Spring advertises most of its cases as a victory for its clients. Remember that the Cold Spring Advisory Group doesn’t have professional lawyers. Its primary leadership consists of barred brokers.
Flagged By PIABA.org As “Menace To Investors”
The Public Investors Arbitration Bar Association conducted a detailed study on firms such as Cold Spring in 2017. Investment loss recovery specialists like the Cold Spring Advisory Group are non-attorney representatives.
When an investor files a complaint against their broker with FINRA (or the court), they have the option to hire a lawyer or a non-attorney representative. PIABA’s report found that NARs have no ethical code and don’t maintain any malpractice insurance, putting thier clients at excessive risk.
According to PIABA, this system makes the investor more vulnerable to negligence as a NAR doesn’t need any qualifications and doesn’t have any standard and ethical rules. Unlike lawyers, NARs don’t receive any training in advocacy either.
PIABA’s report found many issues with such firms.
The primary issue with NARs such as the Cold Spring Advisory Group is they are unregulated. You don’t get the same level of regulatory assurance with NARs as you’d get with attorneys.
The following are some additional issues the report found in NARs:
Why You Should Avoid Firms like the Cold Spring Advisory Group:
NARs charge their clients around $25,000 as non-refundable deposits for their services. That’s not all. They even take a percentage of the settlement amount. And in most cases, the investor isn’t aware of this.
The report also found that many NARs represent their clients without their consent. This means, you might not even know that someone is fighting a case on your behalf in the court.
And if they win the case, they might take a significant percentage of the amount you deserve to get without your knowledge.
An attorney can’t perform such actions. But NARs like the Cold Spring Advisory Group can.
Poor Success Rate
According to the available data, the success rate of the Cold Spring Advisory Group is ~3.7%. This is a horrible ratio.
Keep in mind that you’ll pay a non-refundable deposit and significant representation fees during the process. And you’ll only make your money back if they win the case.
So, as a client of the Cold Spring Advisory Group, you’d have a 96.3% chance of losing the case. This estimation is based on their past record. If you consider that their ownership doesn’t have any arbitration qualifications, it can go even lower.
Many states don’t allow NARs to represent investors in arbitration. But this doesn’t stop NARs.
They might still provide their services in the state and run their unauthorized operation freely. The only person who’d be at risk is you, the investor.
Working with an unregulated and unauthorized service provider is very dangerous. Such unauthorization attracts scams. For example, in the early 2010s, Vito Glazers ran a texting scam as the field of affiliate marketing didn’t have many regulations at the time.
You should be wary of unregulated service providers and it’s obvious that Cold Spring is one of them.
Aggressive Cold-Calling and Solicitation
Attorneys can’t cold-call people and solicit them into filing a lawsuit. But NARs can.
Due to the lack of proper regulation, NARs can cold-call people freely and ask them to file a lawsuit against their broker. These tactics can result in you facing abuse by the NAR.
NARs can pressurize and even force investors to file a lawsuit against their broker without facing any repercussions for the same. Bar associations and other authorities keep attorneys in check. But you don’t get such assurance with a NAR like Cold Spring.
No Disciplinary Information
You can find disciplinary information about an attorney in the state bar’s directory. But there’s no database about any disciplinary action against a NAR.
For example, to find out the truth about the Cold Spring Advisory Group’s leadership’s past, you must know the connection between its president, Michelle Ottimo and Louis Ottimo.
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Then, you must look up Louis Ottimo on FINRA BrokerCheck to see his disciplinary history.
WIthout this info, you may never find out such crucial details about Cold Spring’s past.
That’s because there is no website or regulated directory to share such vital information about NARs and their operations.
Cold Spring claims that it has a team of lawyers present across the nation to help its customers. However, only one person represented all the clients of this company.
Her name is Jennifer Tarr. And she has admitted that she is not an attorney and she doesn’t hold a licence to practice law.
To put it simply, the Cold Spring Advisory Group doesn’t hesitate to lie about its expertise and services.
As there’s no regulation for these firms, they are free to do what they want. They can manipulate you with lies and you can’t hold them liable.
This is a huge disadvantage.
Due to these reasons, many associations including PIABA have urged FINRA to bar NARs from representing investors during FINRA arbitration.
Cold Spring Advisory Group is Flagged By Experts
Finance lawyers have been raising concerns over firms like Cold Spring for years.
The law firm, Maddox Hargett & Caruso, PC had written a strongly worded letter to FINRA in November 2017. They wanted FINRA arbitration to bar or limit NARs from representing clients. The letter was in response to FINRA’s request for comments on the efficacy of NARs for representing parties in arbitration.
Like PIABA, they had also shared a lot of data and proof, highlighting how NARs expose investors to further misrepresentation.
Here’s a link to the complete document: 17-34_Caruso_comment.pdf (finra.org).
Cold Spring had also submitted a comment in response to FINRA’s request. However, unlike the law firms who used data to back up their claims, Cold Spring resorted to using movie tropes.
Here’s a link to the complete document: 17-34_coldspring_comment.pdf (finra.org)
In 2015-16, Cold Spring Advisory faced a very embarrassing position where they had to withdraw representation from the case. The FINRA arbitration was in Arizona, where only lawyers are allowed to present clients.
However, due to Cold Spring’s lack of legal knowledge, they went ahead and represented the client regardless. They had to leave the case quite late in the proceedings when the other party raised objections to their qualifications.
Bill Singer, a prominent legal writer and lawyer, has written extensively about NARs and their involvement in FINRA arbitration.
There are many legal experts like him who voice their concerns over firms like Cold Spring.
Conclusion: Strongly Avoid!
The Cold Spring Advisory Group is not a reliable firm. Louis Ottimo, a consultant at this firm and the husband of its owner, is barred from offering financial services by FINRA.
On top of that, this firm has a terrible success rate of around 3.7%. That means they lose 96.3% of their cases.
Furthermore, the firm doesn’t have any regulation because it’s a non-attorney representative company. All of this suggests it would be unwise to work with them.
If someone from Cold Spring calls you or someone you know, just blacklist their number. At least, you’d be safe from unsolicited representation.
The Cold Spring Advisory Group has a shady history, multiple customer complaints, and a terrible success rate. They hide information from consumers and use deceptive tactics to promote themselves. Be wary of this company.
- Owner of the company is barred by FINRA
- Multiple negative reviews
- Unauthorized services
- Poor success rate