FINRA Rule 3210 Overview

FINRA Rule 3210 is a newer FINRA rule, approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the Spring of 2016. The regulators’ goal in approving this rule was to prevent conflicts of interest by financial advisors and broker dealers. To carry out this goal, the rule governs the ability of registered financial advisors to use investment accounts outside of the accounts offered by their FINRA member firm.  Rule 3210 requires financial advisors to make a request and obtain consent from the FINRA member firm they work for to keep their accounts somewhere else. It also requires a disclosure letter to the outside firm when a securities industry professional opens an account. This disclosure action is sometimes referred to as a FINRA 3210 Letter. Making this disclosure is one important step in preventing conflicts of interest for either firm.  Understanding rules like FINRA Rule 3210 can help you become a well-informed investor. It may also help you know what to look for when selecting a brokerage firm or a registered financial professional. At the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., we are committed to helping you enhance your investor education and understand all the FINRA registered broker dealer rules that may impact your decision-making. FINRA Rule 3210 Broker Dealer Overview When an individual works for a brokerage firm, they typically keep their assets at that firm. The firm is therefore able to monitor their trades and can ensure that the financial advisor is not frontrunning their clients in a personal brokerage account. The firm can also monitor the financial advisor’s account for insider trading or other bad activity. But what happens when the financial advisor works for Bank A but wishes to keep their accounts at Bank B? Rule 3210 specifies that the financial advisor must receive written permission from Bank A to open the account at Bank B. Not only may the financial advisor not open the account without permission, but they must also declare any account in which they have a “beneficial interest.” This means that if their spouse has a brokerage account at Bank B, they must disclose that to their employer as well.  These FINRA registered broker dealer rules may seem challenging at first. However, they have been carefully implemented to protect investors from financial advisor conflicts of interest. Your Financial Advisor’s Requirements Under Rule 3210 Rule 3210 is not merely about allowing your financial advisor’s employer to see what is in their account. It is primarily about preventing conflicts of interest. In doing so, the rule requires: Obtaining prior written consent for opening accounts outside of the employer firm; Giving written notification of the financial advisor’s employment at his or her brokerage firm to the brokerage firm opening the new account; and Submitting written copies of brokerage statements or transaction data to the employer firm upon request. An important part of this rule is the written consent part. Everything must be in writing under Rule 3210. Indeed, keeping written records is a requirement under most FINRA registered broker dealer rules. Maintaining a record of requests and consents is important in this case because Rule 3210 pertains to conflicts of interest. FINRA does not have a set form for requests and consents under Rule 3210. Each firm creates their own FINRA Rule 3210 letters. Even more important than consent may be the fact that a financial advisor must submit duplicate brokerage statements to their employer. A financial professional may have their brokerage accounts at an outside firm. However, their employer must have transparency into their account activity just as if the accounts were in the employer’s custody. Rule 3210 is essential in balancing the right of financial professionals to use whichever brokers they choose with an employer’s need for compliance and a client’s need for transparency.  Close Family Members Must Also Comply with FINRA 3210 It may seem hard to believe that a FINRA broker dealer rule might apply to someone who doesn’t work in the financial services industry. But it’s true—FINRA 3210 requires disclosure of accounts from the following people related to a registered financial industry professional: A spouse; A financially dependent child of the registered financial industry professional or a child of the registered financial industry professional’s spouse;  A relative over whose accounts the registered financial industry professional has control; and Any other person over whose accounts the registered financial industry professional exercises control and who they materially financially support.  In the event that both spouses work at FINRA member firms, then each spouse would have to comply with this rule. Both member firms would be notified about the other spouse’s accounts. Protecting Against Conflicts of Interest A primary goal of FINRA Rule 3210 is to prevent FINRA member conflicts of interest. Your financial advisor and your brokerage firm should be working for you, in your best interest. Where an undisclosed conflict is lurking, your broker simply cannot provide you with the advice or level of service you should expect.  An important part of investor education about FINRA broker dealer rules is to allow you to understand the issues behind rules like FINRA 3210. Being well-informed about what these rules are and how they work helps make you a savvy investor. You will be better equipped to ask questions about potential conflicts of interest. You will also know to ask about your brokerage firm’s compliance systems and record retention.  Concerned That a Conflict of Interest Has Led to Investment Loss? If you are concerned that a conflict of interest caused you investment loss, we are here to fight for your rights. When you engage an investment advisor or a brokerage firm, you expect the highest level of service. When these professionals fail to act in your best interest, they should be held accountable. At The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., our practice focuses on all manner of investment-related litigation, FINRA arbitration, and dispute resolution. Our team has the expertise and savvy to take on even the most complex disputes. Contact...

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FINRA Rule 2165: Financial Exploitation of Specified Adults

Are you curious about how FINRA Rule 2165 can protect you or a loved one who is being financially exploited? FINRA Rule 2165 helps families and brokers who suspect securities fraud in a vulnerable adult’s account. It allows them to take key actions against investment loss.  While their broker may be trustworthy, your parents or other elderly loved ones may reach a point where they are no longer able to make sound investment decisions. A common example of this is when a parent becomes involved in a Ponzi scheme. Another often-seen scenario is when a parent is defrauded into allowing a nefarious third party access to their accounts. Their accounts are quickly drained before an eagle-eyed broker or a caring son or daughter suspects investment fraud. FINRA Rule 2165 is designed with folks like senior citizens in mind. The rule helps a broker look out for their vulnerable clients’ interests. It also enables them to do so before losses become catastrophic.  FINRA Rule 2165: Financial Exploitation Defined FINRA Rule 2165 defines “financial exploitation” as consisting of either of two circumstances. First, Rule 2165 identifies financial exploitation as the wrongful or unauthorized taking or use of a specified adult’s funds or securities. This first definition is very broad and can encompass many types of financial exploitation. Second, Rule 2165 defines financial exploitation as any action or omission, including through a power of attorney or a guardianship, to do any of the following things:  Obtain control over a specified adult’s money, assets, or property through deception, intimidation, or undue influence; or  Steal the specified adult’s money, assets, or property.  FINRA Rule 2165 only protects “specified adults.” These are vulnerable people who may not be able to make their own financial decisions. FINRA Rule 2165 defines a “specified adult” as: A person age 65 or older; or A person age 18 or older who has a mental or physical impairment that impacts their ability to look after their own interests. The financial exploitation definition under FINRA Rule 2165 relates only to actions taken against specified adults. If you do not fit into the category of “specified adult,” you still may have been the victim of securities fraud. If so, it’s important to reach out to an experienced securities fraud attorney as soon as possible.  How FINRA Rule 2165 Protects Vulnerable Adults from Financial Exploitation FINRA Rule 2165 and its sister rule, FINRA Rule 4512, protect vulnerable adults from financial exploitation. These rules work together to allow a vulnerable person’s broker to freeze disbursement of funds from an account suspected of financial exploitation. They also allow a broker to notify a vulnerable person’s important contacts when the broker suspects financial exploitation is taking place. Preventing the Disbursement of Funds When Financial Exploitation Is Suspected A broker is able to place a temporary hold on a disbursement of funds or securities from a specified adult’s brokerage account if/when: A broker has a reasonable belief that financial exploitation has been or will be attempted, has occurred or is occurring; A broker notifies all parties authorized to transact in the account, as well as the account’s trusted contacts, about the temporary hold and the reason for it; and A broker initiates an internal review of why they believe financial exploitation was taking place. The notification to authorized persons on the account can be made orally or in writing (electronic communication is okay) within two business days. Brokers must communicate clearly and quickly about the temporary hold and the reason for the temporary hold. When working with specified adults, a broker needs to maintain a list of trusted contacts. A trusted contact person does not have to be a signatory on the account but can be anyone the broker can share important account information with.  Notification is a very important element of Rule 2165 because placing a hold on client funds is no small matter. However, if the broker suspects that the trusted contact is the person perpetrating the fraud, the broker is no longer under an obligation to notify them.  Rule 2165 Amends Other Protections Against Exploitation The SEC adopted FINRA Rule 2165 in February 2018, which amended FINRA Rule 4512. Previously, Rule 4512 only required brokers to collect and maintain basic personal data about their clients. Now, brokers are required to make reasonable efforts to obtain and maintain the name of a trusted contact person as well.  This revised rule is a great resource for investors and brokers alike. As the investor population ages, trusted contacts can be an excellent resource for brokers to share concerns about unusual client behavior or diminished capacity to make investment decisions. Early communication can lead to better results for investors, caregivers, and brokers. It can even prevent financial exploitation in the first place. Brokers Are Responsible for Compliance  Brokers now must make decisions about whether their clients have the ability to make financial decisions for themselves. This can be difficult and even embarrassing where brokers and clients have worked together for many years. Cognitive abilities of aging people and people with disabilities can change dramatically in short periods of time. Determining if and when a client is at risk of financial exploitation is a very delicate task. The responsibility falls on brokers to understand when transactions are legitimate or not.  Contact a Securities Fraud Attorney If you or a loved one has been financially exploited, you may have a legal right to pursue action against responsible parties. Experience is key in litigating cases like these. We at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., are eager to help you understand your rights. Robert Pearce has many years of experience in the area of securities fraud. He has arbitrated and mediated hundreds of investment-related disputes in his career. Our team of experienced investment loss litigators has recovered over $140 million dollars for well-qualified investors. We help investors nationwide and internationally pursue claims for a variety of investment losses and frauds. Contact us today about a free initial consultation on your...

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FINRA Rule 3270: Outside Business Activities

When you engage a registered investment adviser to manage your money, you want to make sure that nothing will interfere with your securities professional’s duty to you. FINRA Rule 3270 gives transparency to potential conflicts of interest your investment adviser may have.  FINRA Rule 3270 requires your investment advisor to disclose their outside business activities. The purpose of FINRA 3270 is to keep FINRA member firms accountable to you, the client. If you are concerned that your securities professional might have violated certain disclosure rules, a knowledgeable investment loss lawyer can help you understand your options. FINRA Rule 3270 Requires Disclosure of Outside Business Activities In plain English, FINRA Rule 3270 means that your investment adviser may not engage in any outside business activities unless they have provided proper disclosure to their employer. FINRA rules about outside business activities are an important tool to protect investors. These help you to understand whether your investment adviser is putting your interests first. What Is a FINRA Outside Business Activity? FINRA outside business activities are broadly defined. FINRA Rule 3270 states that they include any paid work performed outside of a securities professional’s employment. This includes: Working as an employee for another company; Working as an independent contractor for another company; Serving as an officer, director, or partner of any outside board or organization; Receiving payment for any outside services; and Having the reasonable expectation of being paid for any outside business activities. This rule only requires an investment advisor to notify his or her employer of FINRA outside business activities. It does not require the investment advisor to do anything beyond provide a notification. Instead, the FINRA member firm makes a determination about what outside business activities are acceptable to the firm and its clients. The firm decides how or if outside business activities should continue to be carried out. Common Examples of FINRA Outside Business Activities Common examples of outside business activities include: Acting as both a financial advisor and a certified public accountant; Sitting on the board of directors of an outside organization, whether or not this activity is paid work; and Advising a start-up company for free but expecting future compensation once the company begins to turn a profit. Your investment advisor needs to report any of these activities to their employer under FINRA 3270.  The examples above are not exhaustive. An investment adviser also needs to report their wedding photography business or snorkel tour side-gig to their employer under the rules. FINRA rules about outside business activities apply to any paid work. Passive Investments Are Not Outside Business Activities While FINRA Rule 3270 casts a wide net, it allows investment advisers to make passive personal investments. Investing in diversified index funds or private securities transactions is not an outside business activity. Investment advisers may also put their personal funds into a blind trust. Blind trusts do not allow people to direct how their money is invested. Other FINRA rules require some disclosure about personal investments to ensure that your broker is being as transparent as possible about their potential conflicts of interest. FINRA Rule 3280 requires disclosure of private securities transactions. Your securities professional must strictly comply with this rule and its requirements. Your brokerage firm should ensure the investment adviser’s compliance with FINRA Rule 3280.  Responsibility of Brokerage Firms to Clients Once an investment adviser makes an outside business activities disclosure, the FINRA member firm must take important action. Each firm typically has its own form for reporting and its own protocol for review.  How Do Firms Determine Whether an Outside Business Activity Is Acceptable? Once a firm receives a disclosure, it needs to decide whether the outside business activities are acceptable. The FINRA member firm reviews all facts surrounding the disclosure. Then the firm answers two key questions to protect investors like you. First, Rule 3270 asks a FINRA member firm to consider all the circumstances surrounding the outside business activities. The review includes assessing the type of outside business, reviewing the time spent on the business, and confirming the type or amount of compensation received. The firm must decide whether outside business activities will interfere with the securities professional’s responsibilities to their employer and/or the firm’s clients. Second, Rule 3270 asks a FINRA member firm to think about whether outside business activities will be viewed by customers or the public as part of the member’s business. This review assesses whether a client would confuse the investment adviser’s outside business activities with their securities business.  How Do Firms Address Outside Business Activities That Conflict with an Advisor’s Duties? If the firm determines that the investment adviser’s outside business activities interfere with their responsibilities to the firm or its clients, then the firm should limit or prohibit the activity. FINRA Rule 3270 also requires firms to maintain a record of compliance. It is the firm’s responsibility to keep records of all outside business activities disclosures and compliance reviews. Brokerage firms are responsible to their clients to ensure that they are providing appropriate and conflict-free service in managing client assets. FINRA member firms must represent that their investment advisers are not engaging in outside business activities that compromise client interests. If you believe that your brokerage firm has failed to hold investment advisers accountable to FINRA Rule 3270 or otherwise adhere to conflict of interest rules, the firm may be liable for investor losses.  Have You Been Harmed by Your Investment Adviser’s Outside Business Activities? If you are an investor with concerns that your investment professional has failed to disclose important information to you, please call The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. Our firm has successfully represented individuals harmed by broker and investment advisor negligence or misconduct for over 40 years. Cases involving violations of FINRA rules are complex. Attorney Pearce has the expertise and experience to help you navigate any kind of securities or investment dispute. Contact our team today to discuss an evaluation of your potential case. Our team has recovered over $140 million...

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Understanding FINRA Rule 2111: Suitability

As an investor, you may have heard of FINRA Rule 2111, also known as the suitability rule. But what exactly is FINRA 2111? And how does it affect you and your investments?  When you hire a brokerage firm or financial advisor to make transaction or investment strategy recommendations, you expect that they will do so in a manner that is suitable for you and your particular circumstances. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. If you have suffered financial losses as a result of unsuitable investment strategies and recommendations by your financial advisor, contact securities law attorney Robert Wayne Pearce today.  An Overview of FINRA Rule 2111 Suitability in investing is an overarching concept that describes whether an individual investment is suitable for a client after consideration of that particular client’s characteristics.  The suitability rule requires financial advisors to have a “reasonable basis” to believe that a recommended transaction or investment strategy is suitable for their client. A financial advisor determines the suitability of a particular transaction or investment strategy through learning about the investment profile of his or her customer. Experts interpret FINRA Rule 2111 as requiring financial advisors to make recommendations that are in their customer’s best interests. FINRA outlines situations involving financial advisors violating the suitability rule by placing their interests above the interests of their client, including: Financial advisors who recommend that clients use margin to purchase a larger number of securities to increase commissions;  Brokers who recommend unsuitable securities with high commissions because of pressure from their firm to sell the securities; or A broker who recommends one product over another with the goal of earning more commissions. Unsuitable investment recommendations lead to thousands of dollars in losses for investors every year based on financial advisors recommending products that are illiquid, speculative, and high-risk. If this has happened to you, contact an experienced investment losses attorney today to get started on your case. Suitability Obligations Imposed by FINRA Rule 2111 Rule 2111 consists of three primary obligations: reasonable basis suitability, customer-specific suitability, and quantitative suitability. Reasonable Basis Suitability Reasonable basis suitability mandates that a financial advisor have a reasonable basis, based on reasonable diligence, to believe that a recommendation is suitable for the public at large. This reasonable diligence should provide the financial advisor with a basic understanding of risks and rewards associated with the recommended transaction or investment strategy.  A broker must comprehend the risks and rewards associated with a particular investment. Failure to do so and recommending the investment to a client anyway could result in charges of misrepresenting the investment.  If a broker fails to comply with any of these requirements, the reasonable basis suitability obligation is not met.  Customer-Specific Suitability Customer-specific suitability involves considering specific details about an individual customer to determine whether a transaction or investment strategy is suitable.  A customer’s characteristics that are to be considered during a suitability analysis include: Employment status, Age, Financial situation, Tax status, Experience investing, Investment goals, Risk tolerance, Liquidity needs, and Investment time horizon. The financial advisor should evaluate these characteristics in determining whether the investment or strategy is suitable for that particular customer. Quantitative Suitability The quantitative suitability element evaluates the volume of trades made by a financial advisor.  For a quantitative suitability analysis, transactions made in a customer’s investment account are viewed in the aggregate. The question is whether the investments recommended qualify as a suitable strategy overall, not whether each individual transaction was suitable. The quantitative suitability obligation seeks to prevent financial advisors from making excessive trades in a client’s account solely for the purpose of generating commission fees.  Contact an Investment Loss Attorney Today FINRA 2111 investment loss cases can be particularly complex. That’s why it is important to have an experienced investment loss attorney in your corner.  Since 1980, the attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., have represented countless investors as they fight for their rights. If you are a victim of broker negligence or misconduct, we want to help. We have recovered over $140 million for well-deserving clients, and we will fight to get you the results you deserve too.  Contact our team today for your free case evaluation, and see what we can do for you.

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FINRA Rule 2010: Standards of Commercial Honor and Principles of Trade

FINRA Rule 2010 states that FINRA members must observe “high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade” in the conduct of their business. If you think this rule seems broad, that’s because it is. And unfortunately, FINRA members do not always live up to these high standards prescribed in FINRA Rule 2010. So what do you do if your broker or financial advisor has failed to comply with its obligations under FINRA 2010? Broker misconduct costs investors millions of dollars in investment losses each year. Such losses are often the result of fraud, misrepresentation, or negligent supervision of your account. While such misconduct can result in severe financial ramifications for you, fortunately there are avenues to hold these wrongdoers accountable.  If you suffered losses that you believe are a result of your broker failing to uphold the high standards of commercial honor and equitable principles of trade, contact The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. Discuss your case with an experienced investment loss attorney as soon as possible to see how you may be able to recover.  Overview of Other Notable FINRA Rules Typically, FINRA Rules outline the specific conduct prohibited by the rule itself. For example: FINRA Rule 1122 prohibits FINRA members and other individuals from filing membership or registration information with FINRA that contains incomplete or inaccurate information; FINRA Rule 2111 requires brokers to only recommend investments or investment strategies that are suitable for the client; and FINRA Rule 5270 prohibits the front running of block transactions. So where does FINRA Rule 2010 come into play?   Oftentimes, investors utilize Rule 2010 to address misconduct not described in other FINRA rules. Rule 2010 operates as a catch-all provision to protect investors from financial negligence and other unethical practices by financial advisors and institutions.  What Does Rule 2010 Prohibit? Rule 2010 sanctions brokers for bad faith or unethical “business-related” misconduct. Receiving a sanction under Rule 2010 does not necessarily mean the broker violated the law, even though a securities law violation on its own supports a finding that a broker violated Rule 2010. Conduct deemed unethical or immoral, though not necessarily prohibited by law, authorizes discipline under the rule. Business-Related Requirement FINRA Rule 2010 mandates that the alleged misconduct be business-related to qualify for discipline under this rule. In a 2019 FINRA disciplinary action, a FINRA Hearing Panel explained that the relationship between the FINRA member’s unethical actions and the conduct of his or her securities business do not have to be closely connected. Rather, the Panel implied that Rule 2010 extends to any misconduct that “reflects on the associated person’s capacity to comply with the regulatory requirements of the securities business and to fulfill [his or her] fiduciary duties in handling other people’s money.” Examples of FINRA Rule 2010 Violations Ultimately, every case alleging violation of Rule 2010 requires individual analysis to determine if the misconduct amounts to a violation of the rule. To determine whether the rule was violated, evaluation of both the totality of the circumstances and the context of the misconduct is required. Remember, a Rule 2010 violation occurs even in circumstances when a broker does not commit a violation of state or federal law. Actions considered a violation of Rule 2010 include: Misappropriating funds from clients or an employer; Sharing the confidential information of customers without approval; Forging signatures; Making alterations to important financial documents; Soliciting donations for personal benefit or other unauthorized uses; Misrepresenting financial information to customers; and Refusing to pay attorney fees and other expenses after initiating litigation against a customer. Rule 2010 allegations arise frequently in conjunction with allegations that a broker violated another FINRA Rule. Contact an Investment Loss Attorney to Answer Your Rule 2010 Questions Arguably at the core of securities regulation is FINRA 2010. Without such a rule, FINRA members would have no overarching obligation to conduct their business with such high standards of honor and integrity. Of course, even with Rule 2010 in place, FINRA members will inevitably fall short of these standards. When they do, know you can turn to The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. With more than 40 years of experience representing investors and holding their brokers and financial advisors accountable for misconduct, you can be confident that our team has the knowledge and resources necessary to fight for you.  Attorney Robert Pearce has a strong record of success, recovering funds for more than 99% of his investor clients. To discuss your case and start the process toward compensation, contact us today for a free case evaluation.

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FINRA Know Your Customer Rule and Investment Suitability—How Does it Apply to You?

FINRA regulates the conduct of brokers in the securities industry to protect investors from suffering losses due to financial advisor misconduct. The agency formulates rules to outline the behavior expected of broker-dealers and financial advisors when dealing with their investment clients. Nevertheless, FINRA receives thousands of customer complaints every year alleging violations of FINRA Rules. FINRA Rule 2090, the Know Your Customer (KYC) rule, and FINRA Rule 2111, the suitability rule, mandate minimum knowledge requirements for brokers when making investment recommendations and commonly appear in these customer complaints.  If you suffered investment losses due to unsuitable investment recommendations, The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., can help you determine if your broker violated one of these rules. Contact our office today for a free consultation. FINRA Rule 2090: Know Your Customer Rule FINRA Rule 2090, or the Know Your Client rule, requires financial advisors to know the “essential facts concerning every customer and concerning the authority of each person acting on behalf of such customer” when opening and maintaining a client investment account. The “essential facts” described in the rule include details that are required to: Service the account effectively; Satisfy any special handling instructions for the account; Understand the authority of anyone acting on the customer’s behalf; and Comply with applicable laws, regulations, and rules. The KYC rule protects clients from investment losses by requiring their financial advisor to learn detailed information about their personal financial circumstances. The rule protects financial advisors by outlining the essential information about customers at the outset of the relationship, prior to any recommendations. Additionally, the financial adviser receives notification of any third parties authorized to act on the customer’s behalf. The Know Your Client rule acts in tandem with the suitability rule, FINRA Rule 2111. The information learned by financial advisors through the KYC requirement factors into the analysis of whether an investment recommendation is suitable.  FINRA Rule 2111: Suitability Alleged violation of investment suitability requirements resulted in 1,220 customer complaints filed with FINRA in 2020 alone, down from 1,580 complaints in 2019. The suitability rule requires financial advisors to have a “reasonable basis” to believe that a recommended transaction or investment strategy is suitable for the customer. A financial advisor determines the suitability of a transaction or investment strategy through ascertaining the customer’s investment profile. Factors involved in a suitability analysis include the customer’s: Age, Investment experience, Financial situation, Tax status, Investment goals, Investment time horizon, Liquidity needs, and Risk tolerance. Numerous cases interpret the FINRA suitability rule as requiring financial advisors to make recommendations that are in the best interest of their customers. FINRA outlines situation where financial advisors have violated the suitability rule by placing their interests above the interests of their client, including: A broker who recommends one product over another to receive larger commissions; Financial advisors who recommend that clients use margin to purchase a larger number of securities to increase commissions; and Brokers who recommend speculative securities with high commissions because of pressure from their firm to sell the securities. Any indication that a financial advisor has placed his or her interests ahead of the client’s interest can support a claim for a violation of the suitability rule. Rule 2111 consists of three primary obligations: (1) reasonable basis suitability, (2) customer-specific suitability, and (3) quantitative suitability. Reasonable Basis Suitability Reasonable basis suitability requires a financial advisor to have a reasonable basis to believe, based on reasonable diligence, that a recommendation is suitable for the public at large. A financial advisor’s reasonable diligence should provide him or her with an understanding of risks and rewards associated with the recommended investment or strategy. A failure to comprehend the risks and rewards associated with a particular investment prior to recommending the investment to a client can result in allegations of misrepresentation or fraud. If a broker fails to perform reasonable diligence regarding either component, the financial advisor violates this obligation. Customer-Specific Suitability Customer-specific suitability involves considering the specific details about an individual customer to determine if a transaction or investment strategy is suitable. The financial advisor reviews the details outlined above to determine the suitability of a particular transaction or strategy for each customer. Quantitative Suitability The quantitative suitability element requires financial advisors to recommend transactions that are suitable when viewed as a whole, not only when viewed in isolation. This element aims to prevent financial advisors from making excessive trades in a client’s account solely for the purpose of generating commission fees. Factors such as turnover rate, cost-equity ratio, and use of in-and-out trading indicate that the quantitative suitability obligation was violated. What Constitutes “Reasonable Diligence”  FINRA’s suitability rule requires brokers to exercise “reasonable diligence” in attempting to obtain customer-specific information. The reasonableness of a financial advisor’s effort to obtain such information will depend on the facts and circumstances of each investment relationship. A financial advisor typically relies on the responses provided by the customer in compiling information relevant to the customer’s investment profile. Some situations may prevent a broker from relying exclusively on a customer’s responses, including times when: A financial advisor poses misleading or confusing questions to a degree that the information-gathering process is tainted; The customer exhibits clear signs of diminished capacity; or Red flags exist that indicate the information may be inaccurate. Additionally, the suitability rule requires brokers to consider any other information provided by the customer in connection with investment recommendations.  Hiring an Investment Loss Attorney Violation of FINRA Rules 2090 and 2111 result in significant financial losses for investors every year. If you suffered losses because of unsuitable investment recommendations, you have the right to seek compensation from the parties responsible for your losses.  Cases against brokers and registered investment advisors can be complex for attorneys without experience in securities law.  Robert Wayne Pearce has over 40 years of experience representing investors in disputes against financial advisors and broker dealers. Mr. Pearce has tried, arbitrated, and mediated hundreds of investment-related disputes involving complex securities and FINRA rule violations. In fact, Mr. Pearce serves...

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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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FINRA Statute of Limitations: A Brief Overview

Investment brokers have a duty to treat their clients honesty and with integrity. Those who take advantage of, mislead, or steal from their clients shake the investing industry’s foundation. Regrettably, broker misconduct occurs all too often.  You need representation from an attorney who has the knowledge, skill, and extensive experience to help you recover your losses if you are a victim of investment broker misconduct. Robert Wayne Pearce and his staff with The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., have over 40 years of experience fighting on behalf of investors victimized by broker misconduct. Contact us today to protect your rights. 

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A Stockbroker’s Introduction to FINRA Examinations and Investigations

Brokers and financial advisors oftentimes do not understand what their responsibilities and obligations are and what may result from a Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) examination or investigation. Many brokers do not even know the role that FINRA plays within the industry. This may be due to the fact that FINRA, a self-regulatory organization, is not a government entity and cannot sentence financial professionals to jail time for violation of industry rules and regulations. Nevertheless, all broker-dealers doing business with members of the public must register with FINRA. As registered members, broker-dealers, and the brokers working for them, have agreed to abide by industry rules and regulations, which include FINRA rules.

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