FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION WITH ATTORNEYS WHO CAN HANDLE YOUR SECURITIES, COMMODITIES AND INVESTMENT PROBLEMS

The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. understands what is at stake in securities, commodities and investment law matters and constantly strives to secure the most favorable possible result. Mr. Pearce provides a complete review of your case and fully explains your legal options. The firm works to ensure that you have all of the information necessary to make a sound decision before any action is taken in your case.

For dedicated representation by a law firm with substantial experience in all kinds of securities, commodities and investment disputes, contact the firm by phone at 561-338-0037, toll free at 800-732-2889 or via e-mail. We may also be able to arrange a meeting with you at offices located in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida and elsewhere.

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 does the Difference Between an Unsolicited and Socilited Trade 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.  IMPORTANT: 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 or broker 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 or stockbroker. 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 experienced investment loss 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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How to File a Formal Complaint Against Your Financial Advisor

When you hire a financial advisor, you expect the advisor to act in your best interest to prevent unnecessary losses. Unfortunately, however, financial advisors do not always live up to these expectations. In some cases, a financial advisor fails to follow an investor’s requests and guidelines or otherwise engages in misconduct, causing the investor to suffer losses. When this happens, the investor may be able to file an official complaint against the financial advisor through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). In this article you will learn how to file a complaint against a financial advisor to recover your losses.

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Announcing 2021 Winner – Robert Wayne Pearce Investor Fraud Awareness Scholarship

As promised, today we are announcing the 2021 winners of the Robert Wayne Pearce Investor Fraud Awareness Scholarship. Over the course of the year, we received applications from over 30 students from schools around the country who all wrote quality essays about the dangers of investment fraud and how we can protect ourselves. It was a difficult decision to select just one student winner and so, in addition to the grand prize of $2,500, we have selected 5 other students who are being awarded consolation prizes of $100 each for their efforts and sharing their thoughts on investment fraud and how to protect ourselves. The winner of the $2500 scholarship is Karen Simpson, a student at Palm Beach State College, who wrote, among other things: Investment fraud is a very real and serious problem that happens more than you may realize. But it doesn’t have to scare you away from investing your money in fear of losing it. Learning about the different types of investment fraud and how to protect yourself from fraud, before you decide to invest, is extremely important! You could not only experience financial loss but suffer compromised identity, damaged credit, and emotional issues including rage, frustration, and fear. *** Knowledge is power, and so I also recommend you educate yourself by learning about general nature, mechanics and risks of different types of investments before you start investing. I find an excellent starting point to educate myself is Investopedia, www.investopedia.com. You can also find specific financial information, including, annual reports, prospectuses and offering circulars about companies recommended to compare what you were told about a recommended investment by searching the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission Edgar website for information, www.sec.gov/edgar/search-and-access.  *** The easiest way to protect yourself is to use common sense, look for the red flags and ask questions. Follow a strict check list of do’s and do nots, if it sounds too good to be true, in most cases, it is. If you notice any red flags about an investment, avoid it, as well as the person making the recommendation. That “High Guaranteed Returns” pitch they love to give, don’t believe it. Every investment carries some degree of risk, which is generally reflected in the rate of return you are promised. The higher the return, the higher the risk! The winners of the $100 consolation prizes are as follows: India Bartram of the University of Syracuse, Syracuse, New York Jacob Paul of Villanova University –Charles Widger School of Law, Villanova, Pennsylvania  Kylie Fay of the University of South Alabama, Mobile, Alabama Natalia Capella of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tennessee Rafael Whalen of John Paul The Great Catholic School, Escondido, California We thank all of the other applicants for their efforts, as well, and announce that the next scholarship to be awarded December 15, 2022 will be given to the student who writes the most thoughtful essay about whether they believe the Robinhood Markets, Inc. (“Robinhood”) Investment App is a good tool for novice investors or just game to take advantage of them and make money for the stock brokerage firm. We are interested in learning whether you think Robinhood platform is living up to the legend of Robinhood, who took from the rich and gave to the poor!

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Excessive Buying and Selling of Securities to Generate Commissions Is Called Churning – Is It Happening to You?

Many people often ask, Is churning illegal? The answer is yes. SEC regulations and FINRA rules prohibit the practice of making excessive purchases or sales of securities in investor accounts for the primary purpose of generating commissions, known as churning. Despite the illegality of churning, FINRA filed 190 arbitration actions for the year of 2020 through the end of December against brokers accused of the practice. If you suffered losses in your investment account as a result of excessive trading, contact a churning fraud lawyer to determine whether you are entitled to recover compensation.  What Is Churning in Finance? Churning, also known as excessive trading, takes on a new meaning in the financial industry that doesn’t have anything to do with butter. Excessive trading occurs when a broker makes multiple trades in a customer’s investment account for the primary purpose of generating high commissions. Churning often results in significant losses for investors. The SEC’s Regulation Best Interest, or Reg BI, establishes a standard of conduct for broker-dealers and their employees when recommending investments to retail customers. Reg BI requires brokers to act in the customer’s best interest and not place his or her own interests ahead of those of the investor. Churning is almost never in the best interest of the investor—even those with aggressive trading strategies. Signs Your Advisor Is Churning in Your Investment Account Churning stocks leads to substantial investor losses, especially in situations where it lasts for a long period of time. Many times, investors fail to recognize the indicators that their broker committed the crime of excessive trading until it is too late. There are a number of cautionary signs to look out for when you fear your financial advisor is excessively trading in your account. Unauthorized Trades Unauthorized trading occurs when a broker trades securities in your investment account without receiving prior authorization. If you have a discretionary investment account, your financial advisor has authorization to make trades in your account without seeking your approval for each transaction; however, your broker is still bound by the best interest standard. Excessive trading can be more difficult to detect with a discretionary account. Numerous unauthorized trades appearing on your account statement is a cause for concern. To recognize these transactions, you should review your account statement on a monthly basis and verify the information provided. If you observe unauthorized trades on your account statement, notify your broker and broker-dealer immediately.  Unusually High Trade Volume A high volume of trading activity in a short period of time can signify churning, especially for investors pursuing a conservative investment strategy. Pay special attention to transactions involving the purchase and sale of the same securities over and over. Attorney Robert Pearce has over 40 years of experience representing clients whose brokers’ misconduct caused financial losses. Mr. Pearce’s extensive experience enables him to recognize indicators of churning immediately and prove the amount of damages you suffered as a result of your broker’s misconduct.  Excessive Commission Fees Unusually high commission fees appearing on your account statement is another indication of excessive trading. If the commission fees jump significantly from one month to the next, or if one segment of your investment portfolio consistently generates higher commissions than any other segment, there is a chance your broker is churning your account. Account statements do not typically include fee amounts charged for each individual transaction. Thus, do not hesitate to contact your broker-dealer to request an explanation of the commissions charged to your account. If you feel you are being charged excessive fees in your investment accounts, contact The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., to discuss your options.  Contact Our Office Today for a Free Consultation Churning in the financial industry can result in monetary sanctions and even disqualification from the financial industry in extreme cases. The practice involves the manipulation and deception of investors that entrust their brokers to act in their best interest, warranting severe punishment. Robert Wayne Pearce has handled dozens of churning cases and can provide a complete review of your account statements to determine whether excessive trading occurred. Additionally, The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A., employs experts that can perform a churning analysis of the trading activity in your account to establish concrete evidence that the practice occurred. We have the experience, expertise, and commitment to obtain the damages you deserve. Contact our office 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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LPL Financial LLC Sued For Scott Lanza’s Sales Of REITs And BDCs

LPL Financial LLC (“LPL”) is a securities brokerage firm with offices in Boca Raton, Florida and elsewhere. It is regulated by Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”).  LPL offered and sold to Claimants the investments at issue in this arbitration, namely, non-traded Real Estate Investment Trusts and Business Development Companies through Scott Lanza (“Mr. Lanza”) an individual registered with FINRA as an “Associate Member” of LPL.  The brokerage firm LPL has been sued because it is vicariously liable for Mr. Lanza’s acts, omissions and other misconduct described more fully herein.

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What Is a FINRA Broker CRD Number?

Brokers and brokerage firms must register with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) before they can legally sell securities in the United States. By maintaining a registration system, FINRA can better monitor and record the activities of registered brokers. These registrations are  also open to the public, so investors can review the backgrounds of potential brokers before entrusting them with their money. You can look up your broker and brokerage firm by using their unique CRD (Central Registration Depository) number. What Is a Broker CRD Number? A CRD number is a unique identifier that FINRA assigns to all registered brokers and brokerage firms. You can find your broker’s CRD number on the bottom of their FINRA BrokerCheck report or on their registration card. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Central Registration Depository (CRD) & FINRA FINRA manages the Central Registration Depository (CRD) program. This program covers the licensing and registration of individuals and firms in the securities industry in the United States. When a broker or firm registers with FINRA, the regulator assigns them a CRD number. Investors can use a broker’s CRD number to check that broker’s work history and disciplinary record using BrokerCheck.  A broker’s profile on BrokerCheck will contain useful information for investors. On any given profile, investors can find information related to The broker’s employment history, including dates and names of previous firms; Active and past exam certifications; Active and expired licenses; A complete history of complaints filed against the broker; and  Any disciplinary actions taken against the broker. Complaints and regulatory actions are called “disclosures,” and investors can see details about each one using BrokerCheck. If the claim was settled, BrokerCheck displays the settlement along with the claimed allegations and the broker’s response, if any. Why It’s Important to Investigate a Potential Broker An investment broker is responsible for handling a significant portion of your assets. For that reason, you should learn as much about them as possible before giving them control. Doing your research before handing over your money can save you time and stress in the long run by helping you avoid unscrupulous brokers. If a broker’s disclosure history shows several complaints, each of which the broker denies, you can make the decision to move on or bring up your concerns. In any case, having more information about your broker’s past allows you to make a smarter decision about who is managing your money. How to Find a Broker’s CRD Number Before engaging a broker, you have the legal right to request their CRD number. If a broker refuses to provide this information to you, stop and find another broker to work with. Any broker unwilling to give you their CRD number likely has something to hide and is probably not someone with whom you want to invest. While asking your broker directly is the fastest way to get their CRD number, the information materials and agreement you receive before engaging your broker will likely contain this information as well. Regardless of how you obtain it, searching your broker’s CRD number is an important step when hiring a broker. How to Do a FINRA BrokerCheck CRD Number Search Finding information about a broker or firm in the past used to be a hassle. Fortunately, BrokerCheck makes it easy to research a broker with whom you want to invest. After visiting the BrokerCheck website, there are a few things you can do to check out a broker or firm. Search by CRD Number, Broker, or Firm Name Using the “Individual” or “Firm” search options, you can search for your broker by CRD number or name. Because many brokers may have the same or similar names, using a CRD number ensures that you find the right BrokerCheck report. You can also search for a specific brokerage firm using its CRD number or name. Doing so will return a report with much the same information as a broker search. Additionally, you can see a list of the direct owners and executive officers of the firm and information about when the firm was established. Examine Your Broker’s Employment History and Experience In the “Previous Registrations” section of the BrokerCheck report, you can see a chronological list of the firms with which the broker was previously registered. If you are concerned about gaps in employment or short tenures, you can discuss them with your broker. Check Your Broker’s Licenses and Exam History BrokerCheck also provides a comprehensive list of the examinations and licenses your broker has obtained. In addition to FINRA registration, your broker may have broker or financial adviser registrations in other states. The “Examinations” section shows you the date and type of exam your broker passed. If you are interested in a specific type of security or curious about the broker’s overall certification status, you can check that there. Read Through Any Disclosures BrokerCheck disclosures cover not only customer disputes and disciplinary actions but employment terminations, bankruptcy filings, and criminal and civil proceedings as well. If a broker was the subject of a court-ordered lien or other debt, it will show up with the other disclosures. This is the most important section to review while researching your broker. If there are no disclosures, then you’re good to go. If there are, however, then you should read through them carefully to decide whether to find another broker. Just because a customer dispute is filed does not mean that the broker engaged in wrongdoing. In many cases, the claim may not even reference the individual broker directly even if it shows up in the BrokerCheck report. Essentially, the existence of one or more disclosures does not automatically mean that the broker is bad. You should review and follow up on any disclosures you are concerned about. Do You Need a FINRA Attorney? If you’ve lost money and believe you are a victim of investment fraud or broker misrepresentation, contact a FINRA arbitration attorney as soon as possible. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne...

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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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