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.  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. 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. IMPORTANT: 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. 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...

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How to Handle an SEC Subpoena [Step-by-Step]

No one ever wants to receive an SEC subpoena, but when you do it is important to take action immediately so as to protect your future. In this article we will review what an SEC investigation subpoena is, the different types of SEC subpoenas you can receive, and what to do, step-by-step, if you receive an SEC investigatory subpoena. What is an SEC Subpoena? An SEC subpoena is a legal order for recorded testimony that is issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with one of its investigations. The subpoena requests documents, data, or both which are relevant to an ongoing investigation. Need Legal Help? Let’s talk. or, give us a ring at 561-338-0037. Note: If you get served with an SEC subpoena, it means you’re likely under suspicion of committing or witness to securities fraud even though the SEC will tell you not to conclude anything from the fact you were served with a subpoena. It is strongly encouraged that you consult with a SEC defense lawyer. SEC Subpoena Power The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing securities laws, proposing new securities rules, and regulating the securities industry. The SEC has the power to investigate almost any company or individual for securities fraud. The SEC is primarily interested in issues involving potential stock manipulation, false or misleading statements in offering documents, insider trading, and other areas where investors are being cheated out of money. The staff of the SEC has subpoena power which they can use to compel individuals and companies under investigation to produce requested documents and/or testify at hearings under oath about their involvement with certain companies or businesses. If you receive an SEC subpoena, your life could be turned upside down until the issue is resolved. There are two types of SEC subpoenas: Subpoena ad testificandum: This subpoena compels the person to whom it is addressed to appear at a specific time and place and testify under oath or affirmation. Subpoena duces tecum: This subpoena compels the person to whom it is addressed to produce documents in his possession or control, either at a designated location or before the person who signed the subpoena. What happens when you get an SEC Subpoena?  When you get served with an SEC subpoena, it means that your records are being requested by a federal agency for an investigation. Generally, you’ll be told that you have 30 days from the date of service of this document to provide all records related to whatever it’s requesting. IMPORTANT: You will likely have to appear in front of a SEC enforcement official who may ask you questions under oath and subject to the penalty of perjury and/or making false statements to a government official. Do not lie about not having any records because if they come back and say you lied about having them, you could be charged with obstruction of justice. What should I do if I get an SEC Subpoena? Unfortunately, investigations by the SEC does happen from time to time. If you receive an SEC subpoena, it’s important to act quickly and be proactive. Below are the steps to take after receiving a subpoena from the SEC: Step 1: Consult a SEC defense lawyer who is experienced with SEC subpoenas immediately. Your lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and represent you during the investigation. An attorney can determine how to respond to your subpoena, what information you should immediately turn over, and help you avoid making any mistakes that could result in additional scrutiny or legal consequences. Step 2: Know your rights under the concept of “privileged” information. Under the attorney-client privilege, for example, you do not have to provide anything to the SEC if it would be between you and your lawyer. Step 3: Read the terms of the subpoena thoroughly. Make sure you understand them and determine what information must be turned over. If your subpoena requests specific documents, the SEC will likely want to review all of those documents. Step 4: Respond to the subpoena as soon as possible with an attorney by your side. Returning things too quickly without consulting a lawyer first could look bad for you during the rest of the investigation process. And if they ask for something that is difficult or unrealistic to produce, you can let them know that upon receiving their request. Some items may take longer than 30 days to find/produce depending on how easy it is for you to obtain (i.e., if there are thousands of emails it could take some time). Step 5: Keep a detailed record of all aspects of the process, including any contact or communication with an SEC investigator(s) so that you can protect yourself down the road with evidence in case there is any uncertainty about what happened during the investigation process. Step 6: Keep the details of your case confidential with yourself and your legal representation. Do not discuss or share information about your case with anyone who isn’t an attorney because you do not want to risk incriminating yourself. Step 7: Be proactive and do not engage in any activity that could be considered obstruction of justice, such as lying or concealing information. What types of records might the SEC subpoena? The Commission may subpoena documents related to financial transactions (including transfers of money between accounts), communications (including e-mails), photographs, videos, and other data like employment history or company policies/employee handbooks/training manuals. For example, the SEC may subpoena communications related to specific stock sales or actions taken during an acquisition. Schedule a Consultation with an Experienced SEC Defense Attorney If you are served with an SEC subpoena, you should promptly contact a lawyer experienced in representing parties dealing with federal investigations to guide you through how to handle your case and protect yourself. The Law Offices of Robert Wayne Pearce, P.A. has over 40 years of experience dealing with the SEC subpoenas and enforcement actions. Our attorneys can help you determine what information needs to be turned over, provide advice on how to handle...

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Securities Law in 2021: The Definitive Guide

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

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