Monday, May 27, 2024 May 27, 2024
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Money Doctor Neil Gallagher Gets a Bad Checkup

A history of regulatory violations plagues the record of the radio personality and investment advisor.
illustration by Darren Thompson

“Doc” Gallagher’s voice—positively radiating with positivity—calls out from the radio:

“You can achieve high return without the high risk. What is it that The Gallagher Group does that’s new, better, and different? Well, how much time you’ve got?”

William Neil Gallagher, Ph.D., aka “The Money Doctor,” has spent years on the radio—he’s currently on Saturday mornings on KAAM-AM (770)—sharing investment knowledge like a preacher proselytizing to the masses. His signature sign-off: “See you in church tomorrow.”

During the hour on-air that he buys to advertise his services each week, he spins the personal narrative of a man who once was part of the Wall Street establishment, came to reject its greedy ways, and now has found redemption as an investment educator. He’s like a financial Moses, leading people to the Promised Land, contending that none of his clients lost money on their investments during the stock market setbacks of 2008.

It’s a far cry from his run-ins with state regulators and his history of customer complaints.

One fact that Gallagher doesn’t mention to his radio audience is that he isn’t licensed to sell securities, and hasn’t been at least since 2001, when he was dismissed by the Williams Financial Group. Since late last year, he hasn’t even been registered to dispense investment advice.

Though Gallagher had a documented history of investor complaints during his career as a financial adviser—beginning with A.G. Edwards in 1987—the big trouble began in the fall of 1999. He was “permitted to resign” as an investment adviser with one firm and fired by a second after less than a week. Then the Texas State Securities Board fined him $25,000 after he gave its investigators “re-created” customer-check receipts.

A year later, the state found inadequate record-keeping and misleading correspondence in Gallagher’s Hurst office. Williams Financial—his new firm—was fined $10,000 and ordered not to allow Gallagher to sign up new customers unless another registered member of the firm was present.

Gallagher left Williams in May 2001. Wilson Williams, CEO of the firm, says he was terminated because further violations of state regulations were discovered, adding, “It’s a deep, dark thing that we keep quiet about.”

Gallagher canceled a scheduled interview with D CEO, but issued a written statement blaming his problems with the state securities board on nervous investors and people in his company who “attempted to steal my business and discredit me.” He maintains that the accusations against him were false, and that he consented to a fine only to put the issues behind him. He calls his departure from Williams Financial a voluntary retirement.

Gallagher remains a licensed insurance agent, which entitles him to sell fixed annuities. That also happens to be the type of investment to which he gives his fullest endorsement in the “radio highlights” clips featured on his web site. He says he doesn’t currently advise clients about securities.

One senior broker in the Dallas office of a major investment firm, who asked to remain anonymous, said investors should stick to working with registered advisers, who are more closely monitored by state and federal regulators and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

Despite his own lack of registration, Gallagher agrees. “The person with that [registration] is seeking the client’s best interest, not simply trying to sell mutual funds, annuities, stocks, or bonds,” he says on his show.