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Geoff Turner: Savannah, Georgia Financial Advisor Suspended

A disciplinary action taken by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority against Savannah, Georgia broker and investment advisor Geoff Turner (CRD# 4007735) suspended him over allegations he made unsuitable recommendations of L-share variable annuity contracts. A representative of BB&T Securities, Turner was suspended for 30 days and fined $7,500.

According to a Letter of Acceptance, Waiver and Consent (No. 2016049232201) dated September 2018, Geoff Turner was associated with BB&T Securities when, between December 2014 and June 2015, he recommended and sold investments in Jackson National Life Perspective L-Series variable annuities to 14 customers and in the Nationwide Destination 2.0 L-Series variable annuity to a single customer. In all of these recommendations and sales, according to FINRA, Turner recommended his clients buy a Guaranteed Minimum Income Benefit (GMIB) rider as well. FINRA alleged that although the investments may have been suitable for the investors in question, Turner had no reasonable basis to recommend them, and in fact recommended “higher-cost share class contracts without understand the costs and benefits.” For reference, FINRA notes, L-share variable annuity contracts generally have short surrender periods and are designed such that the investor pays “a higher fee in exchange for the increased liquidity provided by the shorter surrender period,” with those fees often falling 35-50 basis points above those of B-share contract.

Despite the unique costs and features of L-share variable annuity contracts, Geoff Turner allegedly did not have a reasonable basis to recommend either of the products he recommended, because “he did not understand the overall costs of the securities” in question. FINRA’s findings state that he did not use reasonable due diligence to come to an understanding of the products’ costs or how those costs would affect their surrender values. According to FINRA, both products he sold in an L-share class were also available in a B-share class, but Turner “did not understand that the L-share class… would be more expensive than the B-share class for customers who held their annuities for at least seven years.” He also allegedly had no reasonable basis to recommend combining either product with the GMIB riders, as he allegedly “did not understand the terms of these riders, and could not reasonable explain” why he recommended customers pay for products that provide short-term liquidity while also recommending they pay for riders that benefit long-term investors.

FINRA found that these activities constituted violations of FINRA Rules 2111, 2330, and 2010. As a result of the foregoing alleged conduct, Turner was suspended from associating with any FINRA member in all capacities for 30 days. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $7,500.

Geoff Turner has been registered with BB&T Securities in Savannah, Georgia since 2006. His employment history includes BB&T Investment Services in Rincon, Georgia; Linsco/Private Ledger Corporation in Okatie, South Carolina; SunTrust Investment Services in Atlanta, Georgia; AllState Financial Services in Lincoln, Nebraska; NCF Financial Services in Durham, North Carolina; First Citizens Investor Services in Raleigh, North Carolina; and Merrill Lynch in New York, New York. He currently holds 16 state licenses and has passed ten securities industry qualification examinations.

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