What Does a Securities Lawyer Do?

If you’re having difficulties with your financial advisor or broker and suffered investment losses, you might want to hire a securities lawyer who knows the securities laws and securities industry rules inside and out.  Brokers and advisors provide investment advice and sell securities products such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. When you work with an advisor or broker, you probably signed an agreement that required them to comply with Federal and state securities laws and securities industry rules, including the rules requiring an advisor or broker to only make suitable investment recommendations and to act in your best interest. If your financial professional isn’t doing what was agreed to, or if you think they’ve committed securities fraud, you can file a complaint with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). But before you do, you might want to talk to a securities lawyer. You have the right to seek compensation from the parties responsible if you were an investor who lost money as a result of broker misconduct. What Are Securities Laws? Securities laws are the laws that regulate the securities industry. The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) is the government agency that oversees the securities industry and enforces the Federal securities laws. These rules are designed to protect investors from fraud and other abuses, and to ensure that the securities industry operates fairly and transparently. Federal law requires companies that sell securities to register with the SEC. This registration process provides important information about a company’s business, its financial condition, and its management. It also gives the SEC important information about the people who sell the company’s securities. The federal securities laws also require those who sell securities to be licensed and to meet other standards of conduct. Investors and brokers use this information to make informed investment decisions. When brokers don’t disclose important information, or make false or misleading statements, they may have committed securities fraud. Further, the SEC provides a forum where investors can bring SEC complaints. The SEC may use these complaints to assist them in SEC investigations and the detection of securities fraud. 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 800-732-2889. In comparison to other areas of the law in the United States, there are few securities lawyers. Most lawyers who practice in this area work for the government, regulating or prosecuting firms and individuals who have violated securities law. It’s Important To Find A Good Securities Lawyer Who Represents Investors! There are a few lawyers who represent investors in private lawsuits and arbitrations against firms or individuals who have committed fraud and violated other securities laws. In order to sue someone for securities fraud, you must be able to prove that they made false or misleading statements, and that you relied on those statements to your detriment. Proving fraud can be difficult, and you should talk to a securities lawyer before you decide whether to sue. 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 good securities fraud lawyer today to evaluate your case.  Securities Laws are Complex and Numerous The laws that govern the securities industry are complex and numerous. This is partially due to the fact that the securities industry is complex and ever-changing. As new technologies and products are developed, they must be regulated. And as the markets change and evolve, the rules must change with them. This complexity can make it difficult for investors to understand their rights and what they should do if they think their broker has committed securities fraud. Below are just a few of the securities laws that may be relevant to your case: The Securities Act of 1933 Often called the “truth in securities” law, the Securities Act of 1933 has two main objectives: To require that companies disclose important information about their securities before they sell them; and To prevent fraud in the sale of securities. You can read more about the Securities Act of 1933 here. The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 is often called the “most important securities law in the United States.” It created the SEC and gave it broad authority to regulate the securities industry. Among other things, the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 requires companies that sell securities to the public to disclose important information about their business, financial condition, and management. It also requires brokers and dealers who trade securities to be licensed and to meet other standards of conduct. You can read more about the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 here. Trust Indenture Act of 1939 The Trust Indenture Act of 1939 is a federal law that regulates the sale of municipal securities. Municipal securities are debt obligations issued by states, cities, and other government entities. The Trust Indenture Act of 1939 requires state and local governments to disclose important information about their finances before they sell municipal securities. It also prohibits them from...

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What is the Difference Between Solicited & Unsolicited Trades?

Ideally, hiring a skilled broker takes some of the risk out of investing. Unfortunately, however, some brokers fail to act with the appropriate level of integrity. As an investor, it’s very important to understand the difference between solicited and unsolicited trades. The distinction has significant consequences on your ability to recover losses from a bad trade. What’s the Difference Between a Solicited and an Unsolicited Trade? The main difference between a solicited and unsolicited trade is: a solicited trade is a transaction that the broker recommends to the client. In contrast, an unsolicited transaction is one that the investor initially proposed to the broker. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. In regards to solicited trades, the broker is ultimately responsible for the consideration and execution of the trade because he or she brought it to the investor’s attention. The responsibility for unsolicited trades therefore lies primarily with the investor, while the broker merely facilitates the investor’s proposed transaction. Why the Difference Matters The status of a trade as solicited or unsolicited is hugely important when an investor claims unsuitability. An investor who wants to recover losses may be able to do so if the broker is the one who initially suggests the transaction. Take the following example. You purchase $150,000 of stock in a new company. Shortly after the trade is complete, the stock loses nearly all its original value. As an investor, you will want to recover as much of that loss as possible. One way is to file a claim against your broker on the basis that the stock was an unsuitable investment. When you say that an investment was unsuitable, you are essentially saying that based on the information your broker had about you as an investor, the broker should not have made the trade in the first place. If the stock purchase was at your request—that is, it was unsolicited—then it’s unlikely you’d be able to hold your broker liable for your losses. After all, the trade was originally your idea.  If the stock was suggested to you as a good investment by your broker, however, then you may have an argument that you were pushed into a solicited trade that was not in your best interests. If this is the case, you would have a much stronger argument for holding your broker liable. What Is Suitability? The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) imposes rules on registered brokers to protect investors against broker misconduct. Under FINRA Rule 2111, brokers are generally required to engage in trades only if the broker has “a reasonable basis to believe that the recommended transaction or investment strategy involving a security or securities is suitable for the customer.” Whether an investment is suitable depends on diligent consideration of several aspects of a client’s investment profile, including: The investor’s age; Other investments, if any; The investor’s financial situation and tax status; The investor’s individual investment objectives; The level of investing experience or sophistication of the investor; The investor’s risk tolerance; and Other relevant information the investor discloses to their broker. When a broker makes a trade without a reasonable basis for believing that the trade is suitable, the broker violates FINRA Rule 2111. Investors may then be able to recover losses from the broker, and FINRA may impose sanctions, suspension, or other penalties on the broker. Broker Obligations to Their Clients When a broker conducts a trade on behalf of an investor, the broker uses an order ticket with the details of the trade. Brokers mark these tickets as “solicited” or “unsolicited” to reflect the status of the trade. For the reasons explained above, this marking is very important. On one hand, it protects a broker from unsuitability claims following a trade suggested by the broker’s client. On the other, it provides an avenue to recover losses in the case of a solicited trade that turns out poorly. FINRA Rule 2010 covers properly marking trade tickets. This rule requires brokers to observe “high standards of commercial honor and just and equitable principles of trade” in their practice. If a broker fails to properly mark a trade ticket, that broker violates Rule 2010. As an investor, you should always receive a confirmation of any trades your broker conducts on your account.  FINRA has found that abuse of authority by mismarking tickets is an issue within the securities industry. The 2018 report found that brokers sometimes mismarked tickets as “unsolicited” to hide trading activity on discretionary accounts. If your broker feels the need to hide a trade from you, that trade is likely unsuitable. How to Protect Yourself Against Trade Ticket Mismarking Whether your account is discretionary or non-discretionary, and whether you’re new to investing or a skilled tycoon, you should always pay close attention to your investment accounts. Carefully review your trade confirmations to make sure that all trades are properly marked. If you find a mistake, immediately report it to your broker or the compliance department of their brokerage firm. It’s their job to correct these mistakes and make sure they don’t happen in the future. Negative or suspicious responses to a legitimate correction request are red flags that should not be ignored. If you discover your broker intentionally mismarking your trade tickets, contact an investment fraud attorney immediately. Concerned About a Solicited Trade? The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., have been helping investors recover losses for over 40 years. We have extensive experience representing investors and have helped our clients recover over $160 million in total. If you’ve become the victim of unsuitable or fraudulent investing, we can help you. Contact us today or give us a call at 561-338-0037 for a free consultation.

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How to Sue a Financial Advisor or Stockbroker Over Investment Losses

If you’ve lost a significant amount of money in your investment portfolios, you could be wondering if you can sue your financial advisor to help recover those losses. While every case is different, there are a number of factors that will influence whether or not you have a successful lawsuit. In this article, we will discuss some of the key things to consider if you are thinking about suing your financial advisor. Can I Sue My Financial Advisor? The short answer is yes, you can sue your financial advisor if you have suffered losses as a result of your advisor – or the financial institute they work for – actions or inaction. Securities and investment claims in the United States are usually resolved through FINRA’s arbitration procedure. Investment Losses? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Important: If you are considering suing your advisor, it is important to seek legal counsel. Do not file without legal representation. Securities is a complex area of law, and without an attorney, you may not be able to recover the full extent of your losses. A Financial Advisor’s Duty of Care People hire financial advisors and brokers to grow and protect their money. Financial advisors have advanced education and training, which should provide their clients with valuable insight and accurate financial advice. Individual investors expect that their advisors will not defraud or harm them in any other way. Market volatility is difficult to predict with any certainty. Markets dip and rebound over time. A financial advisor must guide you through those difficult times and offer you sound investment advice to minimize or avoid losses.  Some investments are riskier than others. Brokers and financial advisors need to understand their clients’ risk tolerance, as well as their clients’ investment needs. Losses could ruin years of hard work and financial planning.  Market volatility is one thing—negligence, deception, and fraud are something else entirely. Therefore, you should review your portfolio closely to see if you are a victim of misconduct.

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Can I Sue My Financial Advisor For Structured Note Investment Losses?

Structured notes are investments that combine securities from several asset classes to create a single investment with a particular risk and return profile over a time period. Unfortunately, investment loss is not unheard of with structured notes. This article will try to explain how a structured note works and what you can do if you have lost money due to an advisor’s bad purchase decisions for you. Can I Sue My Financial Advisor For Structured Note Investment Losses? Yes, you can sue your financial advisor for structured note investment losses for one or more of the following reasons: The nature, mechanics, or risks of the structured note were misrepresented. The financial advisor failed to provide you with a prospectus, offering memorandum, or otherwise disclose all of the material risks of the structured product investment. The recommendation that you invest in a particular structured note was unsuitable. Your account was over-concentrated in structured notes which may otherwise have been suitable for a small percentage (10% or less) of your portfolio. What Are Structured Notes? Structured notes are investments which often combine securities of different asset classes as one investment for a desired risk and return over a period of time. They are complex investments that are often misunderstood by not only investors but the financial advisors who recommend them.  Structured notes are manufactured by financial institutions in all sizes and shapes. Generally, a structured note is an unsecured obligation of an issuer with a return, generally paid at maturity, that is linked to the performance of an underlying asset, such as a securities market index, exchange traded fund, and/or individual stocks. The return on the structured note will depend on the performance of the underlying asset and the specific features of the investment being made. The different features and risks of structured notes can affect the terms and issuance, returns at maturity, and the value of the structured product before maturity. They may have limited or no liquidity before maturity. Before investing, you better make sure you understand the terms and conditions and risks associated with the structured note being offered. Structured notes are often represented as investments being guaranteed by large financial institutions. Indeed, the top issuers of structured notes in 2021, Goldman Sachs (12.75%), Morgan Stanley (12.70%), Citigroup (12.46%), J.P. Morgan (11.92%), UBS (80.47%), Credit Suisse (4.99%), RBC (4.45%), Bank of America (3.90%), Scotiabank (3.89%), are some of the largest financial institutions in the world. It’s important to understand that although the benefits of owning structured products may be guaranteed to be paid by one of those large financial institutions, the amount of interest or principal being guaranteed is dependent upon the features of the product being sold; that is, the specific terms and conditions of the investment contract being purchased. In this low-interest rate environment the most popular structured notes being offered are structured notes with principal protection and income features. Some of the structured notes offer full principal protection, but others offer partial or no protection of principal at all. Some structured notes offer higher rates of interest that may be paid monthly and then suddenly stop paying any interest at all because payment was contingent upon certain events not happening. It all depends on the terms and conditions of the investment contract being purchased, which is why you must read the term sheet or better yet the prospectus to understand the nature, mechanics and risks of the structured note being sold. You need to understand that there are many key terms beyond the words “guarantor” and “guaranteed” which are used often to describe structured notes. You need to ask about and be sure to understand the following features of the structured notes being offered: the nature of the “reference asset” (a/k/a the “underlyings”) the reference index(es), ETF(s), or stock(s) underlying the structured note. whether the “reference asset” gets put to you at maturity (delivered) or you get paid in cash and forced to realize a loss. the “barrier levels” which can dictate the payment of interest and/or return of capital to the investor in the structured notes. whether the notes “auto-callable” which might force you to realize permanent loss that might not otherwise have occurred if you were allowed to hold the securities through market fluctuation. the “redemption dates,” or “observation dates, ” which may impact the amount of payment of principal or interest you ultimately receive. whether the interest payments subject to a “contingent coupon” and, if so, be sure you know the contingency parameter and the level where your interest payments may stop. How the “closing value” and/or “final value” of the “reference asset (as)” are calculated on the “redemption date(s)” or “observation date(s).” Are Structured Notes Suitable Investments? Let me answer that question this way, a particular structured note may be suitable for somebody but not everybody. With regard to the more common structured notes being offered by the major financial institutions these days, they are not suitable for individuals seeking an investment that: produces fixed periodic interest payments, or other non-contingent sources of income and/or you cannot tolerate receiving few or no interest payments over the term of the notes in the event the closing value of the underlings or reference stock falls below a barrier level on one or more of the observation dates. participates in the full appreciation of the reference stock rather than an investment with a return that is limited to the contingent interest payments, if any, paid on the notes. provides for the full repayment of principal at maturity, and/or you are unwilling or unable to accept the risk that you may lose some or all of the principal amount of the notes in the event the final value of the reference asset falls below the barrier value. They are not suitable investments if you are someone who: anticipates that the closing value of the reference asset will decline during the term of the notes such that the closing value of the reference asset will fall below...

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Can an Oil Investment Fraud Lawyer Help Me Recover Losses?

Are You Dealing with Oil & Gas Investment Fraud? The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. are investigating claims against brokerage firms that sold either oil or gas stocks and other related products. Investments in the oil and gas sector have been very popular over the last few years, and depending upon when your financial advisor recommended you purchase and/or sell the investments, you may have suffered catastrophic losses.  These losses may have been the result of your financial advisors misrepresentations, omissions and misleading statements, failure to do his/her due diligence investigation, and/or unsuitable recommendations. If you believe you are dealing with oil investment fraud, now is the time to consider hiring an experienced investment fraud lawyer. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. help oil and gas investors review their oil-related investments to determine if they have been the victim of oil investment fraud. Investors who have suffered large losses may be able recover some of their losses through FINRA arbitration against oil brokerage firms which improperly sold oil or oil futures contracts while withholding material information on the risks of investing in oil. Give us a call at 800-732-2889 or contact us online. Let’s discuss your case and see what we can do to help get you the compensation you deserve. What is Considered Oil & Gas Investment Fraud? Oil and gas investments take many different forms, including oil and gas stocks, oil and gas drilling programs, oil and gas limited partnerships, oil futures contracts, oil or gas royalty interests in wells which produce oil through a “fee title” arrangement. Fraudulent oil investment activity may fall into one of two categories: fraud by omission or fraud by commission. Fraud by omission occurs when the seller fails to disclose material information, while oil investment fraud by commission occurs when the seller provides false information to oil investors. Both forms of oil and gas investment fraud can occur at any point during oil or gas investments, including before an oil investor purchases oil stock; while oil stock is held; on the date of purchase; or after oil stocks are sold. The oil and gas industry is heavily regulated, and oil investments are subject to many federal securities laws. If oil brokerage firms fail to follow the law, oil investors may be able to recover damages for oil investment fraud by FINRA arbitration. This means that you only need help finding oil investment fraud cases where brokers failed to comply with federal securities laws or breached their fiduciary duty to oil investors. Investors should always consider oil and gas investments to be high risk due to the volatility in oil prices. Some oil stock brokers have been accused of selling oil stocks at inflated oil prices based on false information, while others may have failed to inform investors of risks associated with a particular oil or gas company. If a brokerage firm did not disclose the risks or oil prices to an oil and gas investor prior to a sale, the oil investment fraud lawyer at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. can help investors recover losses from oil-related investments through FINRA arbitration. Some Oil & Gas Investment Fraud Allegations Include: – Misrepresentation of oil company facts made to oil and gas investors. – Failure to disclose oil stock risks prior to oil & gas investments. – Misleading oil companies by encouraging oil companies to change accounting methods in order to show higher oil reserves than actually exist. Give us a call at 800-732-2889 or contact The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. oil investment fraud law firm online to speak with oil investment fraud attorney Robert Wayne Pearce today about oil and gas stock investments, oil and gas limited partnerships, oil futures contracts and oil and gas drilling programs. Recovering Oil & Gas Investment Losses Through FINRA Arbitration If oil brokerage firms failed to disclose oil stock risks or oil prices prior to oil & gas investments, oil and gas investors may be able to recover oil-related losses by FINRA arbitration. FINRA, the acronym for Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, is a non-governmental regulatory association which governs disputes between investors and brokerage firms, including disputes on oil investment fraud allegations. You can learn more about the FINRA arbitration process here. File a Claim with FINRA The formal arbitration process for oil and gas, oil stock fraud cases begins with the filing of a statement of claim by you or your investment fraud attorney. The investor who files the FINRA claim against the brokerage firm is referred to as the “Claimant” in the FINRA arbitration proceedings. If you are an investor, the state of claim is the most important document in your case. This document describes what happened to cause you to lose capital in your oil & gas investment and why you or your FINRA arbitration attorney believes that you are entitled to win a monetary award or relief against the brokerage firm. IMPORTANT: It’s critical that you and/or your attorneys write a clear, concise, accurate, and honest description of what happened as well as a strong case in favor of winning the arbitration. You can learn more about how to file a FINRA complaint and the FINRA complaint process here. The oil fraud attorneys at the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. are experienced FINRA arbitration lawyers who have a thorough understanding of the arbitration process. We understand what’s at risk in securities, commodities, and investment law issues, and we fight to obtain the best possible outcome every time. Past Investor Recoveries The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., has helped recover millions of dollars in valuable compensation for defrauded investors. Below are some notable victories in past investor recoveries.  $21,041,285 FEDERAL COURT FINAL JUDGMENT In 2010, Robert Pearce won a case in federal court for $21,041,285. The final judgment was entered against the defendant for fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil theft pursuant to Florida Statutes Sections 812.014 and 772.11. $7,840,000 FINRA ARBITRATION SETTLEMENT...

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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 Explained: 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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The Most Common Examples of Breach of Fiduciary Duty (And What to Do)

Breaches of fiduciary duty are unfortunately common. Since the fiduciary duty is the highest legal standard of care, however, there are severe consequences for a breach of fiduciary duty. With the help of an investment loss recovery attorney, you can hold the fiduciary accountable for his or her misconduct. What Constitutes a Breach of Fiduciary Duty? A fiduciary duty is a responsibility to act in the best interests of investors as advisors or brokers. When a client’s principal fails to act responsibly in his or her best interests, he or she has committed a breach of fiduciary duty. Investment loss? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. If you believe you are dealing with investment loss due to a breach in fiduciary duty, you should strongly consider hiring an investment loss attorney. The quicker you reach out, the quicker you can begin the process of recovery. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., offers free consultations. Give us a call at 561-556-2927. Let’s discuss your case and see what we can do to help you get the compensation you need and deserve. The Four Elements of a Valid Breach of Fiduciary Duty Claim A breach of fiduciary duty occurs when the fiduciary fails to act in the best interest of the principal. This can happen through an intentional act or failure to act.  There are four elements to a valid breach of fiduciary duty claim. Duty A fiduciary relationship must exist for the fiduciary to owe a duty. You must show that the fiduciary knowingly accepted that role to hold them to the fiduciary standard of care. This is typically shown through a written agreement between the parties, such as a customer agreement. Breach The fiduciary must act contrary to your best interests. A breach of fiduciary duty can be shown through deliberate acts, such as making decisions on your behalf without consent. You can also prove a breach through the fiduciary’s failure to act—for example, not disclosing a conflict of interest.  Damages You must suffer actual harm or damages from the fiduciary’s breach. Proving there was a breach is not enough for a valid claim of breach of fiduciary duty. Damages can be either economic or non-economic, such as mental anguish.  Causation There must be a direct causal link between the fiduciary’s breach and harm to you. Despite your damages, if they are unrelated to the fiduciary’s misconduct or an unforeseeable result of the breach, you cannot recover your losses.  What Is a Fiduciary Duty? A fiduciary is a person entrusted to act in the best interests of another (i.e. the principal). Once the fiduciary agrees to the relationship, the fiduciary is bound by a set of legal and ethical obligations, known as fiduciary duties.  In general, all fiduciaries owe a duty of loyalty and a duty of care. Some fiduciaries will owe additional duties based on the relationship and the industry in which they are in.  The duty of loyalty requires fiduciaries to act in the best interest of the principa, avoid any conflicts of interest, and refrain from self-dealing. The duty of care means the fiduciary must make informed decisions based on all information available.  Fiduciary Duties of Financial Advisors  While all financial advisors have a duty of care to their clients, only registered advisors have a fiduciary duty. It is important to know whether your financial advisor is registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or a state securities regulating agency. Financial advisors who are not registered can make investments that benefit them, as long as the investment is within your stated objectives. A registered financial advisor, on the other hand, can invest only if it is in your best interest. For registered financial advisors, the fiduciary duties owed vary by state. However, the following fiduciary duties apply to all registered financial advisors in all states Duty to Recommend Suitable Investments Prior to recommending an investment, the financial advisor must study and understand the investor’s objectives, tax status, and financial situation, among other things. Any investments that the financial advisor recommends must be suitable to the investor’s needs.  Duty to Inform Investor A financial advisor must fully inform the investor of the risks associated with the purchase or sale of a security. The advisor cannot misrepresent any material facts regarding the transaction. Duty to Act Promptly and with Authorization  All client orders must be performed promptly and with investor’s express consent. The advisor must obtain separate authorization for each investment unless the investor has a discretionary account.  Duty to Refrain from Self-Dealing  A financial advisor cannot initiate a transaction where he or she personally benefits. Duty to Avoid Conflicts of Interest For any recommendations made after June 30, 2020, financial advisors have a fiduciary duty to avoid any conflicts of interest. If unavoidable, the advisor must disclose the conflict to the investor.  What Are Common Forms of Breach of Fiduciary Duty? Below are just a few examples of how a financial advisor can breach his or her fiduciary duty. In each instance, the fiduciary fails to act in the best interest of the investor. Misrepresentation or Failure to Disclose Information If a financial advisor does not present a client with all material information about an investment, this is a breach of fiduciary duty. Material information is what a reasonable investor would consider important when deciding whether to invest.  Sometimes financial advisors will mislead investors by omitting information, such as risk factors or any negative information about a stock.  Excessive Trading Excessive trading, also known as churning, in your account is a breach of fiduciary duty. Financial advisors will make large numbers of trades solely to generate more commissions for themselves.  Unsuitable Investments Financial advisors must “know their customer” before making investment recommendations. This includes understanding the client’s investment objectives, risk tolerance, time horizon, financial standing, and tax status. The advisor breaches their fiduciary duty if they make an unsuitable investment, even with the best intentions.  Failure to Diversify Your financial advisor must recommend a mix of investments...

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What Is Financial Advisor Malpractice?

As an investor, you expect your financial advisor to properly manage your investment portfolio. Unfortunately, this is not always what happens. Financial advisors owe their clients certain obligations with respect to their investment accounts. Failure to adhere to these obligations can result in a claim for financial advisor malpractice. In certain circumstances, the financial fraud committed by your financial advisor will be obvious. For example, if your financial advisor forged your signature on a document, he or she clearly committed misconduct. However, most financial malpractice claims are not this straightforward.  The investment loss recovery attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., have helped hundreds of investors recover losses caused by financial advisor malpractice. Contact us today for a free consultation. What Are My Financial Advisor’s Obligations and Duties to Me?  Registered financial advisors must adhere to certain fiduciary duties, or obligations, with respect to their clients. Financial advisors who are not registered and are not making securities recommendations to retail customers still owe their clients certain obligations, but they are not as stringent as fiduciary duties. Fiduciary Duties Registered investment advisors are bound by fiduciary duties to their clients. The Investment Advisers Act of 1940 defines the role and responsibilities of investment advisors. At its core, the purpose of this act was to protect investors.  A financial advisor owes their client a duty of care and a duty of loyalty. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) interprets these fiduciary duties to require a financial advisor to act in the best interest of their client at all times. The SEC provides additional guidance for each fiduciary duty specifically. The duty of care requires that an investment advisor provide investment advice in the client’s best interest, in consideration of the client’s financial goals. It also requires that a financial advisor provide advice and oversight to the client over the course of the relationship. The duty of loyalty requires an investment advisor to disclose any conflicts of interest that might affect his or her impartiality. It also means that the financial advisor is prohibited from subordinating his or her client’s interests to their own. The Suitability Rule Broker-dealers in the past were subject to less demanding obligations.  The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulates broker-dealers in the United States. FINRA previously imposed a suitability obligation on broker-dealers that only required them to make recommendations that were “suitable” for their clients.  Under the suitability rule, a broker-dealer could recommend an investment only if it was suitable for the client in terms of the client’s financial objectives, needs, and risk profile. Broker-dealers did not owe a duty of loyalty to their clients and did not have to disclose conflicts of interest.  Recently, however, FINRA amended its suitability rule. Regulation Best Interest FINRA recently amended its suitability rule to conform with SEC Regulation Best Interest (Reg. BI), making it clear that stockbrokers now uniformly owe certain heightened duties when making recommendations to retail customers.  As with fiduciary duties, under Reg. BI, all broker-dealers and their stockbrokers now owe the following duties:  Disclosure,  Care,  Conflicts, and  Compliance.  However, it’s important to remember that they owe these duties only when they make recommendations regarding a securities transaction or investment strategy involving securities to a retail customer.  While these changes are still new, one thing is certain—the Reg. BI standard is definitely a heightened standard compared with the previous suitability standard.  Forms of Financial Advisor Malpractice Investors usually hire financial advisors because they do not have experience in investing. With this lack of experience, how can an investor know when a financial advisor is committing malpractice? There are several ways financial advisors can commit financial malpractice. Lack of Diversity Financial advisors have a duty to ensure your investment portfolio is properly diversified to include a variety of investment assets. That may include a mixture of stocks, bonds, or mutual funds in multiple different sectors.  A portfolio that lacks diversification is likely to result in significant losses to the client in the event of a market downturn in a specific sector. If you believe your financial advisor failed to properly diversify your portfolio, contact an investment loss recovery attorney today. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., have significant experience handling these types of cases and will ensure the financial advisor responsible for your losses is held accountable.  Your Investments Are Unsuitable Every investor is unique. That means financial advisors must consider the specific goals and needs of each individual client before recommending investments. A financial advisor must consider a client’s risk tolerance when recommending investments. Risk tolerance refers to an investor’s willingness to endure losses in the financial market. For an aggressive investor, a financial advisor might recommend a risky investment that has a better possibility of high returns. The same recommendation would be unsuitable for an investor with a low risk tolerance. If your financial advisor recommended investments that you believe are unsuitable, contact the Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce to have your case reviewed by an experienced investment losses attorney. Your Investment Advisor Is Excessively Trading Excessive trading, sometimes called churning, occurs when a financial advisor buys and sells stocks excessively with the goal of generating commission fees. Churning is prohibited by the SEC. Investors should frequently review their account statements to ensure that the number of trades in their account does not increase drastically. If your financial advisor has been excessively trading in your investment account, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible to prevent further losses.  Financial Advisor Negligence In some cases, your financial advisor may seem like he or she is doing nothing at all. The financial advisor could be focused on other clients or on personal matters. Regardless of the reason, this behavior is not appropriate. A financial advisor may be guilty of malpractice for failing to give the appropriate amount of attention to a client.  Client Testimonials The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., has been representing investors in disputes against...

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Non-Discretionary vs. Discretionary Investment Accounts

When investors first set up an account with a brokerage firm, that account is designated as either discretionary or non-discretionary. Unfortunately, many investors are simply unaware of the status of their account or what it means. This is usually because investment brokers fail to properly explain each type of account. However, knowing what kind of investment account you have is important. The claims available to a victim of investment fraud or broker misconduct depend on the status of your account. Discretionary vs. Non Discretionary Accounts A discretionary account is an investment account in which an investment advisor has the power to make individual trades without requiring client approval. A non-discretionary account is one in which the client has complete control over whether or not to execute a trade. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037.

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