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Matt Hawkins: SEC Issues Complaint Against Cola Wealth Advisor
Lexington, South Carolina financial advisor Matthew Hawkins (CRD# 5731136) allegedly engaged in potential violations of securities industry rules, according to a pending complaint by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records show that he is a broker with Centaurus Financial, doing business as Cola Wealth Advisor.
Mr. Hawkins’ BrokerCheck report discloses the pending SEC enforcement action against him. Filed in August 2023, it alleges that he “potentially violated” a Securities Exchange Act of 1934 rule known as “Regulation Best Interest,” and more specifically that he failed to comply with its “Care Obligation.” As FINRA explains, Regulation Best Interest creates a “best interest” standard for investment advisors under which they must recommend investments which they “have a reasonable basis to believe” are in the best interest of their retail customers.
Under Regulation Best Interest, advisors are required to comply with a “care obligation” requiring them to understand the potential risks, rewards, costs and other features of an investment recommendation; have a reasonable understanding of the customer’s investment profile, including their financial situation, tax status, liquidity needs, risk tolerance, investment horizon, and investment objectives; and based on the previously described elements, have a reasonable basis to believe “that the recommendation or advice provided is in the retail investor’s best interest,” according to the SEC.
“Whether a recommendation or advice satisfies the care obligations is an objective evaluation,” the regulator states further, “turning on the facts and circumstances of the particular recommendation or advice and the investment profile of the particular retail investor at the time the recommendation is made or when the advice is provided.”
The SEC’s complaint against Mr. Hawkins specifies that the allegedly underlying conduct pertained to corporate bond investments. The regulator is seeking an civil and administrative penalties and/or fines, disgorgement, and an order barring him in the complaint, which is still pending.
According to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority records, Matt Hawkins holds 12 years of securities industry experience. A Lexington, South Carolina-based broker, he has been registered with Centaurus Financial since 2015, doing business as Cola Wealth Advisors. (Information current as of October 11, 2023.)
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