The Bennett Hurwitz Group: Conflicts, Scams, Lawsuits and much more
The Bennett Hurwitz Group is a UBS-affiliated financial consultancy firm based in New York. Their address is 1285 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019.
While it seems like a simple service provider on paper, there are many ethical conflicts surrounding this firm.
As an investor, you should be aware of the different conflicts of interest present in a financial advisor’s terms and conditions. It would help you analyze your options better and determine whether an advisor is suitable for you or not.
Bennett Hurwitz Group – A Brief Introduction
The Bennett Hurwitz Group is a financial advisory company based in NY. They offer education financing, retirement planning, multigenerational planning, and several other services.
Notable people at this company are:
Brian Bennett is the managing director of this firm and handles wealth management. He joined UBS Financial Services in 2012. Before that, Brain used to work at Morgan Stanley as a financial advisor.
He has received a lot of recognition in his career. Forbes named them in their “Best in-state Wealth Advisor” and the “Forbes America’s Top 250 Wealth Advisors” lists.
Marc Hurwitz has been in the financial services sector for 17 years. He is a partner at The Bennett Hurwitz Group and before joining UBS, he used to work at Morgan Stanley.
He is a Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist (CRPS, in short).
Certainly, the financial advisors at this firm have received a lot of recognition. But in many cases, such accolades and awards distract investors from the actual details.
For example, there’s a good chance that Brian Bennett and Marc Hurwitz could face a lawsuit. Why? Find out in the next section:
The Bennett Hurwitz Group Might be Facing a Class-Action Lawsuit
UBS had released a Yield Enhancement Strategy (YES) program a few years ago.
Yield Enhancement Strategy (YES) is a form of investment where the broker tries to enhance the returns in relatively flat market by various tactics such as, selling a call, going beyond the limits etc.
Many UBS advisors advertised the YES program as a market-neutral and safe overlay that would offer incremental returns to investors. However, that was far from the truth.
In the fall of 2018, the YES program lost its investors 20% of their investment. It was a staggering loss.
UBS offered high fees and commissions with the YES program. So, many advisors ignored their clients’ requirements while suggesting this investment product. It was an unsuitable investment for any investor who wanted a low-risk portfolio.
Around 1500 investors lost their invested capital because of the YES program.
Now, many of those investors are filing lawsuits against UBS Financial Services and their financial advisors for giving unsuitable advice and misrepresentation.
The Bennett Hurwitz Group is a UBS-affiliated firm. Chances are, if you’re a client of theirs, you might have suffered losses because of the YES program. It would be best to review your investments and check if they made you invest in the YES program. If they did, you can contact your attorney.
In December 2020, UBS paid $90,000 to an investor as a part of this conflict. The FINRA Dispute Resolution Services panel found that YES strategy was unsuitable for the investor.
Make sure that the advisors at Bennett Hurwitz didn’t take advantage of you like this. There may still be a possibility of mitigating your investment loss.
Why Bennett Hurwitz Group Might be Unsuitable for You
The Bennett Hurwitz Group has many ethical conflicts in its terms and conditions. Many investors overlook these conflicts of interest because they get distracted by the advisor’s accomplishments.
However, you should be well-acquainted with your advisor’s terms of service. This way, you’d know how the advisor can take advantage of you.
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The ethical conflicts present in Bennett Hurwitz’s service suggest that they offer subpar financial advice to their clients. It would be more beneficial for them to ignore their client’s financial requirements while giving them recommendations.
Surely, that wouldn’t be good for you.
Here are the primary conflicts of interest present in their terms of service:
The Bennett Hurwitz Group earns from commissions. This means they get a percentage of the investments they recommend to their clients.
It’s similar to a car salesperson. Just as a car salesman earns commissions when they sell a car, the advisors at Bennett Hurwitz earn when they sell an investment to their client.
This compensation structure incentivizes the financial advisors to ignore their clients’ interests and suggest investments that generate more commissions. Certainly, it can be detrimental to your finances.
The advisors at this firm are broker-dealers. This can lead to several conflicts of interest such as cross-selling commissioned products, revenue sharing from mutual funds, and selling proprietary products.
When an advisor is a broker-dealer, they have the opportunity to charge hidden fees. This would increase your costs significantly and put you at a disadvantage.
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Charging hidden fees is unethical and many investors don’t even find out that they are paying additional charges for no reason. Moreover, the advisors at Bennett Hurwitz would benefit more when you invest in specific investments because they are broker-dealers.
It comes down to the advisor’s priorities – Would they prioritize your financial goals or their commissions?
Charge Extra Fees
Advisors at this firm offer mutual funds with 12b-1 fees. The 12b-1 fee is distribution and marketing fees and it usually goes into the broker’s pocket.
The problem with 12b-1 fees is it only increases costs for the investor and offers no benefit for the additional price. The SEC had conducted a research to compare the returns of mutual funds that charge 12b-1 fees and the returns of those that don’t. They didn’t find any difference.
In fact, the offered returns of mutual funds with 12b-1 fees are lower because their cost is higher.
In other words, the advisors at Bennett Hurwitz charge you extra for offering the same returns.
The Bennett Hurwitz Group is an insurance broker. This means they earn commissions from selling insurance products.
While it may seem harmless, it can cause the advisor to suggest unnecessary insurance products due to the commissions they could earn.
You might think your advisor cares about your security while in reality, they care about their wallet. Having unnecessary insurance can increase your costs substantially, lowering your earnings and profits.
Sell Proprietary Investments
UBS offers many financial products. As UBS advisors, the people at Bennett Hurwitz would have incentives for suggesting UBS investments regardless of their suitability.
Selling proprietary investments introduces bias in an advisor’s services. The advisor may ignore your financial goals and requirements for their personal gain.
You may also not hear about many lucrative investments simply because they weren’t UBS products.
Charge Performance-based Fees
The Bennett Hurwitz Group charges performance-based fees. This means they earn money after they beat a specific index (or a similar benchmark).
Charging performance-based fees is a highly notorious practice in the finance sector. That’s because many brokers that charge performance-based fees tend to put their clients at excessive risk to beat the benchmark.
A study found that brokers that follow this compensation structure put their clients at unnecessary risk and offered poorer results in comparison to those who didn’t follow this method.
Facing excessive risk can be detrimental to your finances, especially in a down market like the current one. RIAs weren’t even allowed to charge performance-based fees before 1985.
So, you can understand how dangerous this practice is.
The advisors at this firm have incentives for putting their clients at additional risk so they can charge more fees.
The Bennett Hurwitz Group Performs Side-by-Side Management
When a firm performs side-by-side management, it means they handle large accounts (such as hedge funds) as well as small retail accounts.
It can cause the service quality of the advisory firm to degrade as they might give more time to their larger clients than the smaller ones. This can lead to biased treatment and ruin the experience for smaller clients.
In many cases, financial advisors start giving cookie-cutter advice to their clients without reviewing their requirements properly. They do so to save time for their larger clients.
It’s not a good practice and is highly looked-down upon in the financial sector. Be sure that your advisor gives you proper attention as their recommendations are vital for your financial success.
Suggest Affiliated Investments
UBS is one of the largest financial companies. As UBS advisors, Brian and his advisors will earn more commissions for suggesting investments that UBS has taken over.
As you may understand, it can influence the recommendations they give to you. For example, they might suggest investments that don’t match your requirements simply because they generate more commissions for them.
The YES program is an excellent example of this conflict. Many advisors overlooked the requirements of their clients because the YES program offered them higher commissions. Those advisors earned the commissions while the investors lost a large chunk of their investments.
The Bennett Hurwitz Group Trades Recommended Securities
According to their disclosures, the advisors at this firm trade the investments they recommend to their clients. While you can term it as “eating your own cooking”, it leads to many ethical conflicts.
It allows the advisors to use their clients’ funds for their personal gain. For example, they might perform front-running where an advisor buys or sells a security then recommends it to their client accordingly.
Advisors are required to share information about the investments they hold. But in most cases, they don’t share this data with their clients.
If you’re a client of Bennett Hurwitz, be sure to ask about the investment they hold. They might be using your (and other clients’) funds to manipulate returns for themselves.
The Bennett Hurwitz Group has many conflicts of interest. They aren’t the only financial advisors who have such twisted terms of service that put their clients at a disadvantage. Richard Abrams is another UBS advisor with similar issues.
When you know how your advisor might exploit you, you can take the necessary steps and prevent them beforehand.
If you’re a client of the Bennett Hurwitz Group, I recommend you review your investments in the context of this new information. Their suggested investments might be generating you returns, but they may not be what you were hoping for.
This financial advisory firm has too many conflicts of interest present in its terms of service. They have more incentive for ignoring their clients’ requirements. The advisors at this firm earn more when they give poor or unsuitable financial recommendations to their clients.
- Has received significant recognition
- Charges extra fees
- Earns from commissions
- Performs side-by-side management
- Charge performance-based fees
- Might face a class-action lawsuit