The Securities and Exchange Commission obtained a final judgment against California-based investment adviser Keith Springer and his firm, Springer Investment Management Inc. (dba Springer Financial Advisors), whom were charged with defrauding hundreds of retail clients.
The SEC’s complaint alleged that Springer and SFA engaged in deceptive practices while soliciting new retail clients, specifically targeting retirees and near-retirees. Many clients learned about Springer and SFA through a radio show hosted by Springer, called “Smart Money with Keith Springer,” which was broadcast on a local radio station in the Greater Sacramento area. Springer told clients and prospective clients that he had been selected to host the show due to his expertise when the show was directly paid for by SFA.
According to the complaint, SFA distributed advertisements to appear as paid sponsored content on websites such as Forbes.com and Money.com. The advertisements were in the form of articles written by Springer.
According to the filing, Springer and SFA were falsely claiming that they did not receive any incentives to recommend particular investments. They also filed false reports with the commission and failed to maintain an adequate compliance program and required books and records. As of July 2019, SFA reported having discretionary assets under management of $207 million across 513 accounts, mostly owned by individual retail investors. From January 2014 through April 2019, Springer and SFA received at least $6 million in annuity commissions and bonus payments from the sale of annuities to its advisory clients.
Springer is barred from association with any broker, dealer, investment adviser, municipal securities dealer, municipal advisor, transfer agent or nationally recognized statistical rating organization.
Springer and SFA agreed to settlements that included $400,000 in penalties and an associational bar against Springer.