A Phoenix, Ariz., registered investment advisor and two of its officers have been fined for not telling clients they were using hypothetical, back-tested data to promote their offerings, the Securities and Exchange Commission announced Monday.
Alpha Fiduciary Inc., an SEC-registered investment advisor, is charged with misleading clients by not prominently stating in promotional material that data being used to show high returns was hypothetical and not real. AFI has $737 million in assets under management in 731 accounts, the SEC says.
Also charged are Arthur T. Doglione of Scottsdale, Ariz., majority owner, president and former chief compliance officer of AFI, and Michael Shea of Pleasant Hill, Calif., former vice president and business development director of AFI.
Without admitting guilt, the defendants have agreed to settle the SEC charges. AFI and Doglione will pay a $250,000 fine and Shea will pay $25,000. Advisors are allowed to use hypothetical and back-tested data to support products, but must make it clear that the data is not a report of real returns.
In the past four years, the SEC has charged seven firms and their officers with using hypothetical data without properly disclosing it as such, the SEC says.
One large case a year ago against F-Squared Investments resulted in a $35 million fine against F-Squared and an admission of guilt by the firm.
In the most recent case, AFI and its officers are charged with misleading clients between 2010 and 2013 about its Global Tactical Multi Asset Class Strategies (GTMACS). In one instance, the GTMACS’s Balanced model was shown to have a 163.7 percent return between 1999 and 2012, the SEC says.
Other instances showed individual client returns had reached 28 percent without showing whether those returns represented all AFI clients, according to the complaint.
In addition to the fine, AFI and Doglione have agreed to numerous remedial actions such as hiring an independent compliance officer and posting the SEC order prominently on its website.