October 29, 2002                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

Wendlandt receives Financial Consumer Advocate Award Morrison honors local investment adviser for service to Montana consumers

       Michael G. Wendlandt, president of Apex Advisory Services of Billings, is the first recipient of the State Auditor's Office's Financial Consumer Advocate Award.
       State Auditor John Morrison will present Wendlandt with the award 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, in Wendlandt's office at 1643 Lewis Ave. #205.
       "Michael Wendlandt is an advocate for Montana's seniors and is an asset to Montana's financial services industry," said Morrison, Montana's securities commissioner. "Not only has he aided a retired couple in recovering assets stolen from them by their investment representative, but his efforts likely prevented further victimization of Montanans."
      Late last year, a retired couple approached Wendlandt to discuss concerns they had with mutual funds they had purchased from a broker/dealer at another company. Wendlandt determined that the couple's investment representative had fabricated their mutual fund statements.
      Their investment representative, Morty Paul Forney, a sales representative with Raymond James Financial Services of Billings, allegedly solicited $135,000 from the couple to invest in mutual funds, but never did.
       "Without Mike's help, this crime may never have been discovered," Morrison said. "Throughout the process, he has kept in touch with our department and the victims to help determine exactly how much money was stolen from them."
      Wendlandt founded Apex Advisory Services in 1996. He is also a registered broker/dealer representative for NFP Securities in Billings.
       Morrison created the Financial Consumer Advocate award to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the financial well being of Montanans. The award will be given annually to an individual who goes out of his or her way to help Montana consumers of financial services.
       "In this time of corporate corruption and greed, I think it is particularly important to recognize individuals who sacrifice time and energy to protect Montana consumers," Morrison said.