Expert: Take caution before choosing financial adviser

It’s one of the most significant decisions a person can make: Who can I trust to monitor my investments?

A five-letter acronym known as FINRA can be a good place to start. Known as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, FINRA offers a tool called BrokerCheck that offers free background checks of investment professionals.

In the case of Lee Wimmer, the disgraced head of now-bankrupt Cornerstone Enterprises of Greenwood, a run of his name through the database reveals that on June 18, 2007, Wimmer misappropriated $299,500 of a customer’s funds, leading the federal Securities and Exchange Commission to bar him from “acting as a broker or investment adviser or otherwise associating with firms that sell securities or provide investment advice to the public. FINRA has barred this individual from acting as a broker or otherwise associating with a broker-dealer firm.”

Wimmer admitted in U.S. District Court on Tuesday that he never told would-be investors of the sanction – a fact several of them corroborated to the Index-Journal.

The tool can be particularly important for somebody thinking of retaining an independent financial consultant who doesn’t have the backing of a major bank or lending house.

“One of the first things a potential investor should consider is FINRA’s BrokerCheck. They do an excellent job in vetting everyone’s personal and professional background. It’s a free service and it’s a quick and easy way to begin verifying both a firm and/or an individual that they may be considering a relationship with,” said Stephen Akin, of Greenwood-based Akin Investment Advisory. “In the case of Lee Wimmer, he hadn’t been registered for years. That should have been a red flag.”

Akin is a member in good standing with no complaints against him, according to FINRA.

With assets of $1 million under his watch, Akin said he created a layer of accountability between himself and his clients’ money.

“I have my business set up to where I don’t take custody of any cash and/or securities, and I don’t have access to withdraw any kind of fees from a customer’s account,” Akin said. “I receive my fees separately. I provide completely independent, unbiased information, planning, research and portfolio management for my clients.”


“The bottom line is, if the representative or the firm has any access to any part of the funds, securities or accounts in any way, there will be the potential for an inherent conflict,” Akin said.

In documents to U.S. District Court Judge Henry M. Herlong Jr., Wimmer explained where his plan went wrong. He decided to merge individual accounts – 29 of them – into a single corporate portfolio, promising annual yields of between 8 and 10 percent on their interest rates.

“By my managing just the one corporate portfolio, it would be much easier and technologically efficient to provide management of the assets,” Wimmer wrote in a Sept. 27 letter to Herlong.

The problem, as Wimmer laid out, was that each preferred security carried both an asset value and “coupon rate,” which is the yield returned on a fixed-income security.

“While the investors may have been receiving credit each month for their coupon interest rate, the preferred asset value was not keeping its value, but was reported on statements as if it was,” Wimmer wrote.

The S&P 500, which monitors the performance of the 500 largest and most stable companies in the New York Stock Exchange, has a current annual return of 12.25 percent from 1923 through 2016.

But according to 2015 analysis by Dalbar, the nation’s leading financial services market research firm, the average investor saw a total yearly return of just 2.5 percent.

In court on Tuesday, Wimmer’s attorney, David Aylor, said the market volatility led to “truly reckless investments” that led to personal ruin for his client as well, to the tune of about $650,000.

“We’re not asking his victims to feel sorry for him, but to point out it’s not a usual Ponzi scheme,” Aylor said. “His money was going right along with investors.”

Contact staff writer Adam Benson at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @ABensonIJ.

From the Index-Journal October 4, 2018

#financialnews #Investmentexperts #portfoliomanagement #wealthmanagement #stocksandbonds #registeredinvestmentadvisor #retirementplanning

29 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Privacy Policy. 

Akin Investment never sells your information. All information gathered on this website is for the purpose of helping our clients and nothing is shared or sold to any third party. We value our clients trust and privacy.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the content or privacy practices of such other sites.  We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of any other site that collects personally identifiable information. 


External links disclaimer. Throughout our site you will find links to external websites Although we make every effort to ensure these links are accurate, up to date and relevant, Akin Investment Advisory cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers. Â Please note that external links from this website are provided as a courtesy. We take no responsibility for information contained on external links from this website. 


Registration or subscriptions

In order to use certain sections like our “Book online” feature on this website, a user must first complete the registration form.  During registration a user is required to give certain information (such as name and email address). This information is used to contact you about the services on our site in which you have expressed interest.  At your option, you may also provide demographic information (such as gender or age) about yourself, but it is not required. 


This site is intended for clients and interested investors residing in states where Akin Investments, llc is qualified to provide investment services. Akin Investments, llc is a Registered Investment Adviser, located in Biloxi, Mississippi registered with the State of Mississippi. Akin Investments, llc may conduct business in those states or locations in which it is registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements similar to or as provided for under established de minimis rules.


Akin Investments, llc website in no event shall the presence of this website on the internet be interpreted or construed as a solicitation to provide investment advisory services outside of the State of Mississippi, South Carolina or outside of those states with an established de minimis rule. If you have questions on your specific situation please reach out to Akin Investments, llc at (601) 974--0549.


Akin Investments, llc does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to Akin Investments, llc. web site or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility therefor. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.


  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon


102 North Mill Street, Suite 906 Jackson, Mississippi 39201 


All Rights ©2015-2021 by Akin Investments, LLC. Proudly created with