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Illinois financial adviser settles govt. complaint

An Illinois financial planning firm has settled claims filed against it by the state Department of Insurance that the business misled customers. Afterward, the owner of the firm said in The State Journal-Register that none of his customers ever complained about his services, and denied that he defrauded any of them.

The company, Dick Van Dyke Financial, is unrelated to a similarly-named appliance store chain, and also has nothing to do with the actor Dick Van Dyke. The complaint, filed in 2013, accused the company of representing itself as being an objective financial adviser. In fact, according to the complaint, the owner relied heavily on commissions he earned from selling indexed annuities insurance products to older clients.

In the settlement, Dick Van Dyke Financial agreed to pay a $6,000 fine. The company also will amend its website to improve its disclosures related to its products and services, and revise its sales practices.

In exchange, the Department of Insurance dropped a reference that the company committed “fraud and deception.” The owner later called this a vindication. He said the actions taken by the Department of Insurance and the Illinois Attorney General against him were based on a complaint filed by a competitor. “I had no complaints from customers,” he said.

When dealing with litigation or government regulators, there are times when it makes sense to fight the charges, and there are times when a settlement is the best option. In some cases, the consequences of losing at trial are too great. Other times, it is a better business decision to settle the claim quickly and move on.

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