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Equitable Advisors, LLC

In 1999, Equitable Advisors, LLC (“Equitable Advisors”), a fee-based broker/dealer (and registered investment adviser) specializing in investment management and financial planning, opened for business. However, the business can be traced back to 1859, when Henry Hyde founded the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States. Prior to June 2020, the firm operated under the name AXA Advisors, LLC. 

Equitable Advisors, headquartered in New York City, is a wholly owned subsidiary of the publicly traded Equitable Holdings, Inc. (EQH), which also owns Equitable Life Insurance Company (Equitable Financial), and AllianceBernstein. 

Equitable Advisors has 3,700+ advisors, and $27.9+B in assets under management (AUM) (as of July 2022), with licenses in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Financial Misconduct at Equitable Advisors, LLC 

Equitable Advisors is licensed by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), and as such is legally obligated to ensure its brokers are acting lawfully in the interest of their investors. If a client suffers losses as a result of negligent behavior or misconduct from a broker, then the firm may be held legally responsible to repay the damages. 

Equitable Advisors and brokers backed by Equitable Advisors have a long history of misconduct and complaints, (with 27 regulatory events and 11 arbitrations) as listed on FINRA’s BrokerCheck Report. 

For about two decades, starting in the early 1990s, Dennis Fern Wright, an advisor with Equitable Advisors, misappropriated approximately $1.5M from 30 investors. Wright encouraged his clients to cash out their accounts so that he could invest their money in what he said would be “managed funds.” But rather than investing their funds, Wright deposited them into a bank account of which he had control and spent them for personal and business expenses. In order to keep his plot going, he made false account statements for his clients and used other investors’ funds to meet client withdrawal requests. 

Advisor Kenneth George Neely, who was registered with Equitable Advisors (then AXA Advisors) at their St. Louis, Missouri office, was barred by FINRA in 2009. FINRA found that Neely had “fraudulently induced at least 25 customers, family, friends, and fellow church members” to join a non-existent investment club and invest in a non-existent real estate investment trust. Neely was able to hide his Ponzi scheme from both member firms and tax authorities by soliciting his victims to pay their funds to him or his wife in small amounts that he would immediately convert to cash. Neely promised his investors that they would receive high rates of returns, and was able to receive $600,000+ in his fake REIT. He used the money on credit card payments, a country club membership, his mortgage and various entertainment bills.  

In 2014, Equitable Advisors settled with the New York Department of Financial Services for $20M after it was discovered that the firm failed to adequately notify the Department prior to changing thousands and thousands of New Yorkers’ variable annuity polices, which limited potential returns.  

In 2019, FINRA ordered the firm to pay $772,000 after findings showed that the firm marketed hunk bonds as higher-quality investments. Also in 2019, a FINRA arbitration panel ordered the firm to pay $3.2M to an elderly couple, after one of its advisors made unsuitable recommendations that allegedly resulted in high commissions for him and losses for the couple.  

In March 2022, Anthony Vincent Didonna, a stockbroker with Equitable Advisors was barred from practicing after he failed to respond to FINRA’s request for information surrounding an April 2021 customer-filed complaint involving Didonna. The customer requested compensatory damages based on allegations that Didonna made misappropriated funds by making unauthorized transfers from the customer’s account and forged the customer’s signature. In December 2021, Didonna was issued a Notice of Suspension and a Suspension from Association letter in January 2022. He was given three months to cooperate with FINRA’s request but failed to do so, resulting in that automatic bar. 

You May Have a Claim. Contact Our Firm Now! 

As an investor, you have a right to recover investments lost through unethical behavior or decisions made against your best interests. Meyer Wilson has reclaimed $350 million for the victims of investment fraud or misconduct. Our attorneys are experienced in going up against large investment firms, such as Equitable Advisors, and our track record affirms our resources and expertise. Meyer Wilson has represented clients nationwide and internationally, in state and federal courts, and in arbitration through FINRA, AAA, JAMS, and the NFA.  

If you believe that you have been the victim of investment fraud or have been recommended unsuitable investments, you may have options. Call Meyer Wilson today!

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