Stephen Patrick Harnden – Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC
If you’re looking for a wealth advisor in Peoria, Arizona, you might come across the name of Stephen Patrick Harnden. He is a wealth advisor of Ameriprise Financial Services and is quite a prominent figure in the region.
But as an investor, it’s your right to know the pros and cons of dealing with any service provider. Below are some of the issues present in Stephen’s disclosures he doesn’t want you to know:
Who is Stephen Harnden Ameriprise?
Stephen Patrick Harnden is a financial advisor belonging to Ameriprise Financial Services, LLC. His office is located at 7992 W Thunderbird Rd Ste 110, Peoria, AZ 85381, US. The opening hours of his office are 8 AM to 5 PM on weekdays and 8 AM to 4 PM on Fridays. You can give them a call on 623-972-3133.
He has CFP and CPA certifications.
Initially, he seems like an ordinary financial advisor but in reality, there are many issues surrounding him. Here are the most prominent ones:
Problems in Working With Stephen Harnden Ameriprise
Disputes with Clients
Stephen Harnden Ameriprise has had multiple disputes with his clients. Although all three of them were denied, it’s worth noting that they all consisted of different issues.
You can find out if your financial advisor had any disputes in the past with their clients by looking them up on FINRA BrokerCheck. When you look up Stephen Harnden, you’d find multiple disputes in his profile.
The first one was in 2002. Stephen’s client alleged that he didn’t provide suitable investment advice for the client’s risk tolerance. The client indicated that he lost 50% of his initial portfolio because of him and requested $219,000.00 in damages.
In the second dispute, the client alleged that the fixed and variable annuities bought in 2001 and 2003 were unsuitable. This dispute was in 2007 and the requested damages were $10,525.53.
Finally, the most recent dispute was in 2013. Here, the client said that the advisor sold theri American Express stock without approval several years ago. They demanded $88,785.25 in damages.
Usually, skilled financial advisors don’t even have one dispute on their profile. But Stephen Harnden has 3 of them, all for different issues. All of these investors suffered heavy losses when he was theri advisor. Maybe it was because of the various shady provisions in his disclosures, which I have discussed below:
Earning from Commissions
One of the most prominent issues in Stephen’s disclosures is he earns from commissions. This means he gets compensation from the “sale” of certain investments.
Commissions can introduce bias in the financial advisor’s service. He might ignore your interests and financial goals to make an extra buck. In many cases, you wouldn’t even realize you’re getting subpar advice because your advisor would make it seem as if you’re getting the best returns possible when that’s not the case.
Most investors expect their advisor to keep their financial goals and requirements as the top priority. However, when you work with a commission-earning advisor, the chances of them keeping you as their biggest priority are slim.
Charging 12b-1 Fees
12b-1 fees is a marketing fee which generally goes in the pockets of the advisor. It only increases the costs of the investment and doesn’t offer any benefits for the added cost. Stephen recommends securities that charge this fee, which is another red flag.
SEC had done a study to compare the returns of investments that charge 12b-1 fees and those that don’t to see if there’s any difference. They found none.
In fact, investments charging 12b-1 fees were worse because they cost more than the ones that don’t charge this fee.
If you’re a client of Stephen Harnden Ameriprise, review your investments and see if you’re paying this fee.
Stephen is an insurance broker as well. This means he earns commissions from selling insurance products to his clients.
There is nothing wrong in selling insurance but you don’t expect your financial advisor to “sell” you insurance. Most clients are unaware of this and think their advisor cares about their security when he suggests getting expensive insurance products.
Coupled with the 12b-1 fees, insurance products can increase your costs substantially. Be on the lookout for unnecessary insurance recommendations while working with such advisors.
Stephen is a part of Ameriprise Financial Services, which has many proprietary products and affiliates. When an advisor has many proprietary and affiliated investments, it introduces bias in their services.
This selection limits the number of investments they recommend to their clients because there is little to zero incentive for them to recommend anything else.
Proprietary products offer above-average commissions to wealth advisors. Hence, they might suggest them to you even though they are unsuitable for you.
Charging Performance-based Fees
When your wealth advisor charges performance-based fees, he earns money only when he outperforms a specific benchmark (like an index). It can force the advisor to follow high-risk strategies and ignore the client’s financial requirements.
Charging performance-based fees is highly looked down upon in the finance industry for multiple reasons. However, the biggest reason is the fact that the advisors have incentive to put their clients at unnecessary risk.
If the high-risk strategies work out, both you and your advisor make money. However, if they fail, you lose your investments.
Moreover, high-risk strategies aren’t suitable for every investor. If you don’t get the desired returns, the advisor can always say, “you knew all the risks”. Hence, it’s best to avoid advisors that follow this fee structure.
In the case of Stephen Hanrden Amerirprise, you should avoid him too.
Another prominent issue in Stephen’s services is he performs side-by-side management. This means he handles large accounts as well as small ones at the same time.
For individual investors and small investors, this is a huge red flag. Because side-by-side management usually compels the firm to give cookie-cutter advice to its smaller clients to save resources.
Trading Recommended Investments
Stephen can trade the securities he recommends to his clients, which can lead to various conflicts of interest. If you’re a client of his, it would be best if you review your investments and find out if he has traded them or not.
That’s because many advisors who trade recommended securities tend to use their clients’ funds to manipulate the returns for their personal profits. What’s worse is that many clients are unaware of such manipulation.
Stephen Harnden Review: Conclusion
Stephen Harnden is an Ameriprise wealth advisor, which is a huge achievement in itself. However, his accolades and awards shouldn’t distract you from the multiple disputes he has had with his clients. Nor should they distract you from the various shady provisions present in his disclosures.
It is difficult to trust an advisor with so many conflicts of interest in his disclosures.
Stephen Harnden charges performance-based fees, 12b-1 fees, and performs side-by-side management. All of these are heavily looked down upon in the finance industry. Due to these reasons, it’s advised to stay away from him.
- Performance-based fees
- History of disputes
- Selfish provisions