What a Securities Lawyer Does

The term “securities” encompasses several forms of financial instruments that hold some type of monetary value. Securities exist in the form of: Stocks, Bonds, Options, Notes, Certificates of interest, Collateral trust certificates, Transferable shares, and Investment contracts. Consumers and financial professionals trade securities in financial markets in an attempt to generate profits.  The law regulating securities and financial industry professionals exists to protect investors and shareholders from misconduct and enforce compliance with federal and state securities laws. Securities laws evolve rapidly to keep pace with developments in financial markets. This is where securities lawyers come in. What Does a Securities Lawyer Do? A securities lawyer specializes in securities laws and regulations that apply to investors, brokers, and financial advisors. Securities lawyers represent investors claiming losses as a result of misconduct or fraud, as well as brokers and financial advisors accused of misconduct by their clients or their employers. Investment Losses? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Attorney Robert Pearce has over 40 years of experience as a securities lawyer and has been named a Florida Super Lawyer through Thomson Reuters for Securities Litigation. The Super Lawyer title is awarded only to those in the top 5% in their area of law. Robert’s extensive knowledge of securities law and experience representing investors and financial professionals equip him to obtain the best results for each and every client. When Should an Investor Hire a Securities Lawyer? If you are an investor who suffered losses due to broker misconduct, you have the right to seek reimbursement from the parties responsible. Broker misconduct exists in multiple forms, including: Breach of fiduciary duty; Failure to disclose a conflict of interest; Churning, also known as excessive trading; Lack of diversification; Failure to adequately supervise; Misrepresentation; Omission of material facts; Unsuitable investment recommendations; Unauthorized trading; and  Misappropriating client funds.  While some forms of broker misconduct are easy to recognize, others are not. A financial advisor who stole funds out of your account and transferred them to a personal account clearly misappropriated your funds and committed misconduct. It’s more difficult to prove that a financial advisor recommended unsuitable investments, however, because the suitability of an investment depends on a number of different factors.  If you suffered investment losses and believe it was a result of broker misconduct, contact a securities lawyer today to evaluate your case.  The FINRA Arbitration Process FINRA is a self-governing regulatory agency charged with ensuring its members comply with the ethical rules of the financial industry and investigating investor complaints alleging misconduct and fraud. FINRA can impose fines and restrictions on brokers when necessary. Many investment contracts between brokers and investors include an arbitration provision that requires investors to file claims with FINRA. The FINRA arbitration process involves several steps, including: Filing a statement of claim; Selecting arbitrators; Participating in pre-hearing conferences and discovery; and Attending the arbitration hearing. Robert Pearce has represented hundreds of clients in the FINRA arbitration process. He is committed to obtaining the best results for his client in every case.  When Should a Financial Professional Hire a Securities Lawyer?  Brokers and investment advisors facing disputes with their brokerage firms or regulators should consider seeking the advice of a securities lawyer. We have represented investment professionals in investigations and administrative proceedings initiated by the: United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA); United States Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC); and Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards (CFP Board). Regulatory judgments against financial professionals can result in serious consequences, including being barred from the financial industry. You should seek the counsel of a securities lawyer as soon as possible after being contacted by any securities regulatory agency.  The securities lawyers at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., represent brokers and advisors in employment agreement disputes and in employment disputes involving discrimination. Additionally, our securities attorneys represent brokers and advisors against their employers in the event of Form U-5 Abuse, which occurs when an employer uses a Form U-5 to blackmail a former employee.  Contact The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., Today Robert has over 40 years of experience representing clients in securities disputes and has won multiple million-dollar awards on their behalf. We operate on a contingency fee basis. That means you have to pay for your legal representation only in the event of a settlement or award. When you suffer losses through no fault of your own, having an experienced securities lawyer in your corner can increase your chances of recovery. Contact our office today for a free case review.

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What is Financial Elder Abuse: The Signs You Should Look Out For

Growing up, one of the lessons we’re all taught is to respect our elders. Unfortunately, many people fail to take this to heart. Unscrupulous family members and other bad actors often take advantage of senior citizens, especially when it comes to their finances. According to one study, financial elder abuse accounted for roughly 18% of elder abuse reports. However, the actual percentage is likely much higher; only about 1 in 44 financial abuse cases is ever reported. Because many elderly people live off of their investments, the consequences of this type of abuse can be particularly extreme. The best way to protect our elderly family members is to know the signs of financial elder abuse. By recognizing the abuse as soon as possible, we can hopefully prevent irreversible damage to their finances. What Is Elder Financial Abuse? Elder financial abuse is theft or mismanagement of an elderly person’s assets. These may include real estate, bank accounts, or other property that belongs to the elderly person. Because the abuser is often a close family member, or trusted financial advisor, elder financial abuse frequently goes unnoticed. Investment Losses? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Sign #1: Unusual Bank Account Activity As they get older, many people grant financial powers of attorney to their spouse or adult children or trusted financial advisors. While this is perfectly normal, it opens up the possibility that the designated person may abuse that power. If you suspect elder financial abuse, pay close attention to the elderly person’s bank accounts and investments in their brokerage accounts. Withdrawals, transfers, or other suspicious activity like new or inactive accounts suddenly becoming active are red flags. The elderly person may be making these transfers themself, but it’s always good to be sure, since it could be for the wrong reasons (like the internet scams discussed below). Keep an eye on their investments as well. An elderly person’s portfolio is typically structured to provide a livable income off interest alone through low-risk investments. Keep an eye out for restructuring of investments to riskier funds or unexplained “cash outs.” Sign #2: Suspicious Internet Activity Over the past few years, there has been a drastic increase in the number of online scams targeting elderly people. Because elderly people are more trusting and less able to distinguish a scam from a legitimate venture, scammers frequently target them with fake tech support calls and the like. One of the most common online scams involves the scammer posing as a lover, friend, or family member online. After contacting the elderly victim, the scammer then requests money for plane tickets or some kind of emergency. This sign may be impossible to notice without speaking to the potential victim. Be wary if they mention someone new they met online or if you notice suspicious financial activity initiated by the victim. Sign #3: Missing Food or Unpaid Bills Ordinarily, caregivers or family members will make sure that an eldery person’s home is stocked with food and that bills are paid on time. Especially in a world with automatic bill payments, aging parents shouldn’t have to worry about paying their bills on time. A lack of food in the house and unpaid bills are indicators that that money is going elsewhere. Sign #4: Frequent Requests for Money by Someone Close to the Victim If someone makes frequent demands for money, that could be an indicator of financial exploitation. Anyone from neighbors to adult children may try to make frequent requests for money because they know the victim may have a poor memory or may have difficulty saying no.  Keep in mind that elder financial abuse like this is often subtle. Demands may not always be for large amounts of cash; this sign also includes polite requests for small amounts here and there. Over time, however, those “small amounts” can become exploitative. Sign #5: Payment for Unnecessary Services Door-to-door salesmen and “cold callers” may try to a upsell your elderly family member on services they don’t want or need. One common example of door-to-door sales abuse is roof repair or landscaping work. Cold callers barrage elderly at home with the next best investment in gold, silver, diamonds, and the next supposed Apple, Amazon, or Nextflix investment opportunity  to get into before its too late! These scams can take many different forms and may be difficult to spot. Sign #6: Threats or Coercion It may be difficult to imagine, but people may threaten their elderly family members to obtain money. These threats usually do not involve force, but rather things like, “I will put you in a home” or “I will stop visiting you.” If you don’t buy this stock, I’ll never call you again with any investment opportunities.  The abuser may also instruct the victim not to tell anyone what is happening. As a result, you’ll often have to pay close attention to spot this sign of elder financial abuse. Watch for a change in the elderly person’s demeanor or mood, especially around a suspected abuser.  What to Do If You Suspect Elder Financial Abuse If you suspect your loved one is the victim of elder financial abuse, there are a couple things you can do. If there is a health emergency, call 911 immediately; calling state adult protective services may also be appropriate in some circumstances. In most cases, your next step should be contacting a financial elder abuse attorney. They can provide legal advice and support to help stop the abuse and may be able to help the victim recover lost assets. Elder Financial Abuse and Financial Fraud Attorneys At the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., we have the experience and resources necessary to properly handle your elder financial abuse claim. We’ve helped hundreds of clients with securities and investment fraud of all kinds and are prepared to give you the professional, dedicated representation you need. Contact us today through our website or by phone at 800-732-2889 for a free consultation.

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Securities Fraud: What You Should Know as an Investor

Investors trust their financial advisors to make important and wise decisions regarding the management of their investment portfolio. Financial advisors hold a position of trust with their clients, and clients expect their advisor to act with the client’s goals in mind. Unfortunately, advisors frequently violate the trust of their clients by committing various forms of securities fraud. It is important to note that suffering losses on your investments, by itself, is not a form of securities fraud. Securities fraud involves the deception of investors or the manipulation of financial markets through illegal methods. If you suffered investment losses but don’t know if you have a claim for securities fraud, our securities fraud lawyers at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., are ready to help. Contact us today to get started on your case. What Is Securities Fraud? Securities fraud, also known as investment fraud and stock fraud, is the deception of investors or the manipulation of financial markets through illegal methods. Investors who suffer losses as a result of securities fraud can seek to recover their losses. Investment Losses? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Common Forms of Securities Fraud Securities fraud occurs in multiple different ways, making it even more difficult to recognize. Victims of securities fraud often suffer steep losses as a result of the fraud. Fortunately, victims of securities fraud can seek to recover their losses. So, what is securities fraud? Below are some of the most common forms of securities fraud.  Misrepresentations and Misleading Statements Misrepresentation is the most common type of securities fraud. It involves a false statement about an investment in a company; for example, a company that supposedly has earnings, a revolutionary product, or multi-million dollar contract when it has none of those assets. Misleading statements arise by omission; such as, using the same examples, when the financial advisor fails to tell you the earnings surprise was a one time past event, the revolutionary product can’t be patented, or the multi-million dollar contract is with another company about to file bankruptcy. Undoubtedly, those missing facts would have made all the difference to you in making your investment decision. The fraudster doesn’t care, he/she lies or misleads you to just get you to part with your money so he/she makes a commission. If you relied upon that intentionally false statement or misleading statement and made that investment, you have the right to claim securities fraud under federal and state statutes as well as ordinary common law fraud. But the securities fraud statutes usually have statutory remedies, including, prejudgment interest on the full purchase price from the date of purchase and attorney fees, to fully compensate you for your loss. The only problem with securities fraud statutes is they generally come with short statutes of limitation and so, you need to act fast and file suit quickly to take advantage of them. Ponzi-Like Schemes Ponzi schemes involve promises of high returns with little risk for investors, a staple of many forms of securities fraud. However, instead of issuing returns to investors out of profits, the funds of new investors are paid to early investors. Thus, Ponzi scheme victims receive guarantees of returns regardless of market conditions.  Ponzi schemes fall apart once there are no new investors providing funds. Companies operating Ponzi schemes focus the majority of their efforts into advertising to new investors to keep the scheme afloat.  Well-known financier Bernie Madoff was convicted of running the largest Ponzi scheme in history after evidence showed that Madoff falsified trading reports to indicate clients were earning profits on investments that did not exist. Madoff received a 150-year sentence in federal prison after pleading guilty. Embezzlement Embezzlement refers to the misappropriation of assets by a person entrusted with those assets. An embezzler possesses the assets lawfully at the outset, but once the assets are used for unintended purposes, embezzlement has occurred.  For example, financial advisors placed in charge of clients’ accounts possess authority to conduct transactions in the accounts, subject to some limitations. A financial advisor who steals assets entrusted to him or her by a client commits embezzlement.  Advance Fee Schemes Advance fee schemes target all kinds of victims and are becoming more prevalent with the rise of internet scams. Con artists operating advance fee schemes require the victim to pay an “advance fee” in anticipation of receiving something—such as a service, a product, or an investment opportunity—of greater value in return. The scheme operator convinces the victim to provide the fee, then subsequently informs the victim that he or she is ineligible for whatever was offered after the fee is paid. The victim is unable to recover the fee that was paid. To avoid suffering losses due to an advance fee scheme, take precautions before conducting business with a company you have never heard of. Providing any payment amount to a person or company you are unfamiliar with is a risky practice. When in doubt, speak to an experienced securities fraud attorney to determine whether the investment opportunity is fraudulent.  Pump and Dump Fraud A pump and dump scheme, also referred to as market manipulation, occurs when a group of fraudsters post content on the internet enticing investors to purchase a stock as soon as possible.  The fraudsters claim to have insider information regarding the product that will result in a jump in the share price of the stock. The fraudsters post content in multiple forums in an attempt to entice as many new investors as possible. Once investors purchase shares of the stock, the fraudsters sell their shares, resulting in a dramatic dip in the share price. New investors, lacking awareness of any fraudulent conduct, suffer the losses.  Pump and dump schemes began primarily through cold calling. However, the internet and social media provide fraudsters a more efficient way to attempt the scheme. Insider Trading Insider trading involves the use of “non-public, material information” to buy or sell stocks. Non-public material information includes any information that could substantially impact an investor’s decision...

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FINRA Arbitration in 2021: The Complete Guide

If you lost money in the stock market because of your broker’s bad advice or careless investment practices, would you know where to turn for help recouping your losses? Robert Wayne Pearce and his team with the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., possess a tremendous amount of experience fighting for people just like you who pledged their hard-earned money to a securities broker or investment professional who lost most or all of their nest egg.  You might have a legal case if you relied on your investment professional to grow and protect your money but lost money instead. Taking on your broker and their firm is not easy. You need a tough, accomplished, and successful FINRA arbitration attorney who knows how to win by your side.  Below is a complete guide on FINRA Arbitration in 2021. In this guide, you will learn about FINRA and the steps you can take to help recover your losses. FINRA Overview FINRA, the acronym for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, governs disputes between investors and brokers and disputes between brokers. In this article, we solely concentrate on how an individual private investor files a claim to recover losses against their broker or financial advisor.  We will explain how FINRA fits into the securities regulatory scheme. We will discuss how FINRA provides services designed to resolve disputes in a cost-effective manner that is quicker than a traditional court and give some insight into how FINRA‘s arbitration procedure works. Next, we will examine the pros and cons of FINRA arbitration. Lastly, we will discuss how a highly experienced lawyer who has represented numerous clients successfully at FINRA arbitration can help you recover your damages from your broker or financial advisor.  What Is FINRA? FINRA is not a government agency. Unlike the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), FINRA is an organization established by Congress to oversee the brokerage industry. FINRA is a self-governing body and operates independently from the U.S. government. By contrast, the SEC more broadly regulates the buying and selling of securities on various exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange, NASDAQ, and the American Stock Exchange. The SEC approves initial public offerings and secondary offerings and can halt trading to avoid a crash if necessary.  Additionally, the SEC has law enforcement powers. Along with the FBI and the U.S. Attorneys Office, the SEC can investigate acts surrounding the buying, selling, and issuing of securities. The U.S. Attorney can pursue charges for crimes relating to the stock market, such as insider trading and wire fraud. While the SEC has the authority to file civil lawsuits against any person or organization violating the securities statutes and the SEC’s rules. How Is FINRA Different from the SEC? FINRA has a different function than the SEC altogether. FINRA is a regulatory agency designed to promote public confidence in the brokerage industry and the financial markets as well. People will not invest if they believe they have trusted unscrupulous financial advisors to protect their economic interests. FINRA ensures that its members comply with the ethical rules of their profession, similar to a state bar for attorneys or a board of registration for medical professionals.  Congress granted FINRA authorization to investigate complaints investors make concerning misconduct, fraud, or potentially criminal behavior. As a result, FINRA can discipline its members if the agency determines that a broker violated its professional code. FINRA can assess fines, place restrictions on a broker’s authority, or expel the member from its ranks for an egregious violation. Anyone who suspects their broker or their financial advisor of wrongdoing should file a complaint with FINRA’s complaint center for investors.  You should be aware that FINRA’s rules do not restrict you from filing a complaint seeking an investigation into wrongdoing and pursuing monetary damages in arbitration.  FINRA Alternative Dispute Resolution FINRA provides a forum for investors to resolve their disputes with their brokers or financial advisors. In fact, FINRA boasts the largest securities dispute resolution forum in the US. FINRA offers arbitration services, as well as mediation services, as a means to avoid costly and inefficient litigation in courts. FINRA provides a fair, effective, and efficient forum to resolve broker disputes. FINRA’s goal is to settle disputes quickly and efficiently without the standard procedural and discovery requirements that bog down cases filed in courts.  How Does Arbitration Work with FINRA? Arbitration is an alternative to filing a case in civil court. Arbitration tends to be less formal and is designed to process claims more quickly than filing a lawsuit in court.  FINRA’s arbitration process involves resolving monetary disputes among brokers and investors. FINRA’s arbitrators can issue monetary judgments and have the authority to order a broker to deliver securities to you if that is a just resolution of the case.  An arbitration hearing is similar to a trial in court. The parties admit evidence and argue their side to a neutral person or panel of arbitrators who will decide the case. The arbitrator’s decision, called an award, is the judgment of the case and is final. You should know that you do not have the right to appeal the award to another arbitrator. You may have an opportunity to pursue an appeal in court under limited circumstances. However, you cannot elect to arbitrate your case and then file a complaint in court seeking a trial on the issues decided by the arbitrator.  FINRA’s arbitration forum operates under the rules set forth by the SEC. FINRA ensures that the platform serves as it should and facilitates ending disputes. No member of FINRA participates in the arbitration. FINRA merely provides the forum and enforces the rules. Arbitrators decide the cases.  The arbitrators typically need about 16 months to issue an award. This is a lot quicker than court, where cases could take years to get to trial. The parties also have the opportunity to resolve the dispute by negotiating among themselves without going to arbitration.  FINRA’s Arbitration Forum Protects Investor Confidentiality Arbitration with FINRA is often confidential. The parties...

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Securities Law in 2021: The Definitive Guide

The law governing securities evolves constantly to keep pace with changes in the industry. Regulatory agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) F/K/A National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) enforce various rules and regulations designed to promote fair and full disclosure of material facts related to financial markets and individual securities transactions. This guide provides a surface-level overview of the securities laws in the United States and what those laws mean for you. Important Terms in Securities Law A security is an intangible financial instrument that entitles its owner to claims of ownership on assets and earnings of the issuer or the voting power that accompanies the claims. Securities exist in the form of: Notes, Stocks, Treasury stocks, Bonds, Certificates of interest, Collateral trust certificates, Transferable shares, Investment contracts, Voting trust certificates, Certificates of deposit for a security; or A fraction, undivided interest in mineral rights. Stock markets in the United States collect trillions of dollars on investments through the securities trade.  The individuals buying or selling securities are referred to as investors. The term “retail investor” refers to an individual who typically purchases securities from a broker and, in most cases, does not purchase a large quantity of securities. The term “institutional investor,” on the other hand, often refers to a company investing large sums of money in securities.  The company buying and selling securities for investors is known as a broker-dealer. Firms like Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch employ brokers to serve clients by buying and selling securities on their behalf.  History of Federal Securities Law Prior to the Great Depression, the United States lacked an expansive securities regulation at the federal level. As a result, companies falsified and misrepresented financial information without fear of consequences. During the 1920s, the stock market expanded rapidly as the U.S. economy grew and stock prices reached record highs. Between August 1921 and September 1929, the Dow increased by 600%. Excitement surrounding the stock market fueled retail investors to get involved. Many retail investors purchased stocks “on margin,” meaning they only paid a small portion of the stock price and borrowed the remaining amount from a bank or broker. Despite the audacity of the claim, many believed that stock prices would continue rising forever. In early September 1929, stock prices started to decline. Not yet alarmed, many investors saw an opportunity to buy into the stock market at a lower price. The Stock Market Crash of 1929 On October 18, 1929, stock prices decreased more significantly. October 24 signaled the first day of panic among investors. Known as “Black Thursday,” a record 12,894,650 shares were traded throughout the day. On October 28, the Dow suffered a record loss of 38.33 points, or 12.82%. The following day—”Black Tuesday”— held more devastating news for investors as stock prices dropped even more. 16,410,030 shares were traded on the New York Stock Exchange in a single day. The 1929 stock market crash resulted in billions of dollars lost and signaled the beginning of the Great Depression. The Aftermath In the wake of the crash, the U.S. Senate formed a commission responsible for determining the causes. The investigation uncovered a wide range of abusive practices within banks and bank affiliates and spurred public support for banking and securities regulations. As a result of the findings, Congress passed the Banking Act of 1933, the Securities Act of 1933, and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. New York County Assistant District Attorney Ferdinand Pecora finalized the final report and conducted hearings on behalf of the commission and was later selected as one of the first commissioners of the SEC. Federal Securities Laws and Regulations The American banking systems suffered significantly in the wake of the stock market crash, as approximately one in three banks closed their doors permanently. Following the crash, the U.S. government imposed tighter rules and regulations on the financial industry. As securities evolve, regulatory agencies are responsible for imposing up-to-date regulations to protect investors. Banking Act of 1933 The Banking Act of 1933 (the Banking Act), implemented by Congress on June 16, 1933, signaled the start of many changes in the securities industry. First, the Banking Act established the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), created to provide deposit insurance to depositors in United States depository institutions in an effort to restore the public’s trust in the American banking system.  Glass-Steagall provisions Four sections of the Banking Act—referred to as the Glass-Steagall legislation—addressed the conflicts of interest uncovered by Ferdinand Pecora during his investigation into the stock market crash of 1929. The Glass-Steagall legislation sought to limit the conflicts of interests created when commercial banks are allowed to underwrite stocks and bonds. In the previous decade, banks put their interest in promoting stocks and bonds to their own benefit, rather than considering the risks placed on investors. The new legislation banned commercial banks from: Dealing in non-governmental securities for customers; Investing in non-investment grade securities on behalf of the bank itself; Underwriting or distributing non-governmental securities; and Affiliation or employee sharing with companies involved in such activities. On the other side, the legislation prohibited investment banks from accepting deposits from customers. Deterioration and reinterpretation of Glass-Steagall provisions The separation of commercial and investment banks proved to be a controversial topic throughout the financial industry. Only two years after passing the Banking Act, Senator Carter Glass—the namesake of the provisions—sought to repeal the prohibition on commercial banks underwriting securities, stating that the provisions had unduly damaged securities markets.  Beginning in the 1960s, banks began lobbying Congress to allow them to enter the municipal bond market. In the 1970s, large banks argued that the Glass-Steagall provisions were preventing them from being competitive with foreign securities firms. The Federal Reserve Board reinterpreted Section 20 of the Glass-Steagall provisions to allow banks to have up to 5% of gross revenues from investment banking business. Soon after, the Federal Reserve Board voted to loosen regulations under the Glass-Steagall provisions after hearing arguments from Citicorp,...

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