by Structured Settlement Watchdog
It has emerged that the website for Crowfly, LLC is owned by Milestone Consulting, LLC. See Download Registrant of CrowFly domain is Milestone Consulting, LLC
"John T. Bair is the Managing Member and a principal owner Crowfly, LLC a structured settlement transfer of payments originator and servicer of court approved structured settlement transfers. Crowfly, LLC has developed an online platform directly connecting the sellers of annuities with qualified buyers. Occasionally, a seller of an annuity may invest the proceeds of the sale with Milestone. Additionally, in some instances, when a Milestone client is in need of a more secure income stream, Milestone may recommend an annuity that is listed through CrowFly to the client. These activities trigger a conflict of interest because Crowfly receives compensation for the transaction. Clients to whom the firm offers advisory services are informed that they are under no obligation to purchase annuities from Crowfly, LLC and may use the annuity brokerage firm of their choice. Client should also note that annuity guarantees are subject to the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company"
Source: Milestone Wealth, LLC Form ADV Part 2A Brochure Page 11 Item 10, dated March 16, 2022. Highlights added for commentary.
- Do any of the related entities solicit structured settlement annuitants to sell their structured settlements to CrowFly?
- How is Crowfly an "annuity brokerage firm" if it is not licensed?
- How is CrowFly an "annuity brokerage firm" if structured settlement payment rights are separate and distinct from an annuity?
I have previously raised awareness of CrowFly's use of the term annuity to describe what it sells to consumers. See CrowFly LLC Misleading "Purchase Structured Settlement Annuity" Paid Ads Exhibit
For more than a decade, I have also categorically discredited the use of the term annuity to describe structured settlement payment rights. Anyone who understands structured settlements should know that structured settlement payment rights are not an annuity, and it is structured settlement payment rights that are transferred.
CrowFly LLC has admitted in writing on its website, that it has no insurance license or securities license and does not provide advice concerning either.
Milestone in its Form ADV part 2 admits that it may recommend an annuity listed on CrowFly? If it does, CrowFly receives compensation for the transaction and given that Bair is the Managing Member and owner of CrowFly, what are we looking at folks? A disclosed and admitted conflict of interest.
I've previously raised this question including but not limited to this post, which highlighted a number of cases in which CrowFly, LLC, a company which the Form ADV part 2 says Bair is the Managing Member and Principal owner, whose website is owned by Milestone Consulting, has factored structured settlements originally placed by Bair via Milestone or Forge.
See my January 15, 2022 post Court Records Prove CrowFly Factored Structured Settlements Written by John Bair (Milestone and Forge)
"Never before has there been a professional who created structured settlements, get into the business of unwinding them" -John Bair in the Legal Examiner February 7, 2020.
The "never before" aspect was simply untrue as I documented here, but it confirmed what I've known since 2018. What is worth noting however is that Bair/Milestone have been able to keep most of their agency agreements with structured settlement annuity issuing life insurers, in spite of court records documenting instances of factoring his own client's structures, being a member of the National Association of Settlement Purchasers, but none of the primary market trade associations.
" We are the only primary market, as well as secondary market origination firm for transfers that I am aware of" John Bair from his Milestone Consulting email October 3, 2018 in an approach to a third party.
"Consider a discounted annuity from crowfly(dot)com, as the yields of 4% to 5% are attractive and are from some of the most highly rated insurers. Buying a secondary market annuity also helps out another person who is in need or has fallen on tough times. There is a strong social impact of buying an annuity from someone else. Both sides of the equation win. Also, the yield to a buyer of a structured settlement annuity is a net yield; there are no ongoing monthly or annual expenses. Structured settlement annuities, or structured settlements, can be a great source of income. They are typically annuities and should..."
-John Bair April 20, 2020 representing structured settlement payment rights as an annuity or annuities in a Legal Examiner blog " How to Buy an Annuity". They aren't according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The same day Bair solicited lawyers to get their clients out of annuities.
What is Form ADV Part 2A?
Part 2A requires advisers to create narrative brochures containing information about the advisory firm. The requirements in Part 2A apply to all investment advisers registered with or applying for registration with the SEC, but do not apply to exempt reporting advisers. Every application for registration must include a narrative brochure prepared in accordance with the requirements of Part 2A of Form ADV. See Advisers Act Rule 203-1.
Why Did Milestone Wealth (f/k/a Monolith Advisors) File a Form ADV Part 2 in March, when it had done so in November 2021?
They say on the cover page "The purpose of this page is to inform you of any material changes since the previous version of this brochure. We review and update our brochure at least annually to make sure that it remains current. On March 16, 2022, we amended the cover page of our Form ADV Part 2 Brochure to disclose our firm’s new name, Milestone Wealth, LLC. We also replaced all references to Monolith Advisors LLC with Milestone Wealth, LLC. Further, we amended Item 4 of the document to disclose our updated assets under management figures, we amended Item 5 to disclose that we bill on cash positions, and we amended Item 8 to provide important discloses about cybersecurity risks and risks associated with cryptocurrencies".
In February, I raised the reasonable and obvious question of Is there a Monolith Advisors LLC AUM Disparity? after Buffalo Business First listed Monolith Advisors, LLC as having $350M of assets under management and using that as a yardstick to see them "qualify" as 8th the Top 20 AUM list in Buffalo. A look at the Form ADV filed by Milestone Wealth LLC (then known as Monolith Advisors, LLC) shows a more than $200MM disparity. To be clear, the Form ADV Part 2 numbers look to be consistent, but the question remains of how Milestone Wealth (then known as Monolith Advisors) made the Top 20 list in AUM? Judging by the list included in the aformentioned February 7, 2022 post, Milestone Wealth would NOT have cracked the Top 10, would not have cracked the Top 14 which was more than $50M more AUM. I checked with the author of the Buffalo Business First list, in February, and he indicated as I chronicled in the February 7, 2022 post linked earlier in this paragraph that he got the information from a company representative in July 2021. He refused to name the company source.
Back to the March 16, 2022 Form ADV Part 2 for Milestone Wealth LLC
Milestone Wealth, LLC (hereinafter “Milestone” or the “firm”) is a registered investment adviser based in Buffalo, NY. Milestone has been offering advisory services since 2013. Milestone & Co., LLC is the sole owner of the firm. John Theodore Bair is the President and Chief Compliance Officer of the firm and the primary owner of Milestone & Co., LLC.
In the March 16, 2022 Form ADV p 11 item 10, it states "In addition to his responsibilities at Milestone, John T. Bair is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Milestone Consulting, LLC (“Milestone”), a consulting firm and insurance agency located in Buffalo, New York. An October 29, 2021 article by Katie Anderson of Buffalo Business First stated that Milestone Consulting had named Amy Fogle as new CEO.
Upon information and belief, John Theodore Bair and John T. Bair are the same person.