Local investment adviser loses state insurance license

An Indianapolis-area investment advisory firm owner has lost her state insurance producer license because of multiple consumer complaints filed against her with a separate regulatory group. 

The Indiana Department of Insurance has declined to renew the license of Tamara “Tammie” Steele of Indianapolis, the owner of Pendleton-based Steele Financial Inc. Steele’s license with the IDOI expired June 30.

Since 2017, a dozen clients have filed complaints against Steele with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, alleging that Steele recommended investments that were not suitable for them. 

One of those FINRA complaints went into arbitration and, as a result, Steele was ordered to pay a $265,489 judgment last August. Another five of those complaints have been settled for amounts ranging from $44,500 to $1.18 million, and six are still pending.

In a document issued last month by the IDOI, that agency said it was not renewing Steele’s insurance producer license “for having been involved in multiple FINRA consumer dispute actions which [demonstrate] fraudulent, coercive, and dishonest practices,” and for failing to report the August 2018 judgment to the IDOI.

According to state law, Steele is entitled to ask the IDOI for a hearing.

Steele is also the subject of two ongoing legal complaints.

In September, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint alleging that Steele violated federal law by selling $13 million in high-risk securities to more than 120 clients without disclosing that the firm stood to receive commissions of up to 18 percent from those sales.

And, last month, financial advisor Casey Kemerly of Pendleton filed suit against Steele in Madison County circuit court. In that complaint, Kemerly said Steele sold her client accounts to him, but later defamed Kemerly and persuaded some of those clients to switch their accounts to another firm.

 That firm, Noblesville-based Evia Investment Advisors LLC and its president, Daniel P. Reichart, are also named as defendants in Kemerly’s complaint.

Steele told IBJ on Monday morning that she wanted to consult with her attorney before commenting on the case.

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