A wide range of violations are being levied against a high-profile advisor in the Baltimore area in a case fraught with ethics issues.
Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh announced last month that his office is seeking to shut down the investment advisory operations of Everest Wealth Management, Inc. and Everest Investment Advisors, located in Towson, Md., based on allegations of fraud and Maryland securities law violations.
In an official news release, the Securities Division of the Office of the Attorney General said it is also seeking to permanently prohibit the owner of both companies, Philippe Rousseaux, ChFC, CIMA, RICP, from offering investment advisory services in Maryland.
Everest Investment Advisors, Inc. (EIA) and Everest Wealth Management, Inc. (EWM) are Florida corporations majority-owned and owned by Rousseaux that, at all times relevant, have maintained a place of business in Towson. While EIA has been a registered investment advisor in Maryland since 2011, EWM has never been registered as an investment advisor in Maryland.
Rousseaux and his companies are widely known in the Baltimore region for their frequent infomercial advertising, which promotes him and his team as “The Money Guys,” part of what Rousseaux has said is a $1 million yearly marketing campaign. The shows appear on multiple stations and seek to attract customers with promises of guaranteed returns and limited risk.
According to the case’s Order to Show Cause, which contains the wide-ranging allegations, Rousseaux and his companies have used “prohibited marketing tactics to blur the distinction between insurance products and fee-based investment advisory services, a breach of fiduciary responsibility.” The companies continued the practice despite repeated warnings from regulators in the Securities Division, the news release stated. Rousseaux has promoted his marketing strategy to insurance and financial industry peers as “psychological warfare” and “mind games” explicitly designed to attract more investments.