Do you dream of finding an omniscient stockbroker who will guard your principal from loss, invest it wisely, generate above-average returns, and never cause you aggravation or harm? Well, if so, wake up. You’re dreaming, remember?
A Stockbroker’ Job Is To Sell Stuff
Stockbrokers are just commissioned salesmen trying to make a buck. Many are well meaning, but some can be treacherous. Most can offer some decent products and also some truly awful products, and some brokers will recommend the truly awful products simply because they carry the highest commissions and fees. Even a stockbroker who wants to be worthy of your trust might repay that trust with bad recommendations. We’ve handled plenty of cases in which the broker was a decent person who didn’t fully understand how an investment product worked or what could go wrong with it.
The reality is that at any given time, there are of tens of thousands of retail investors who could pursue legitimate claims against their brokers or brokerage firms. And unfortunately, most of these wronged investors talk themselves out of doing anything or dither around until it’s too late. Hey, dithering investors… we’re talking to you!
The Clock Is Always Ticking
You need to be aware that you have a remedy for losses caused by your broker’s unsuitable advice. It’s called arbitration. If you assert a claim in arbitration, you stand a good chance of getting back some or all of your money, but you can lose that opportunity if you don’t use it in time. Securities arbitration comes with a deadline.
What are the odds you’ll succeed? Lawyers are not permitted to guarantee a result, but we can state facts. The fact is that since 2001 when we began to exclusively handle investor claims, we’ve represented many hundreds of investors in arbitration cases and nearly every one of them has recovered money. By “nearly every one of them,” we mean around 99%.
This is the basic message we want to convey to people. If you lost more money than you were willing or able to lose, or if an investment went bad in a way you never understood it could, there’s a very good chance that your broker’s greed, incompetence, or carelessness is the reason. Knowledgeable securities lawyers (like us, for instance) can tell you whether you have a valid claim, usually at no cost to you.
What you NEVER want to hear one of these lawyers say is that you had a valid claim but now you don’t because you waited too long to pursue it. We’ve had to give that bad news to many people over the years. That’s why we periodically re-post this information about FINRA arbitration.
Arbitration is a type of alternative dispute resolution in which parties agree to submit their dispute for a ruling by one or more neutral third parties called arbitrators. If the dispute is between a broker or brokerage firm and their customer, an arbitration proceeding is most likely the customer’s only available recourse. The parties agree in advance to comply with the arbitrator’s award and to consider the dispute resolved once that award is issued.
Arbitrators then consider written evidence and witness testimony presented by each side and issue an award.
The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) maintains a nationwide arbitration system for resolving disputes between investors and their brokers or brokerage firms. FINRA has created a uniform arbitration process and oversees the selection of arbitration panels with the intention of resolving disputes less expensively and more quickly than the federal or state courts. FINRA arbitration sometimes can be concluded in as little as a year, especially because the great majority of cases are settled before the hearing. The cost to arbitrate a case in front of FINRA generally is lower than the cost of bringing a lawsuit, but it varies depending on the amount of loss at issue, the complexity of the case, and the occurrence of any postponements of filing deadlines or hearing sessions by either party.
Is Your Case Too Old?
An investment-related dispute usually is eligible to be heard by a FINRA arbitration panel if the claimant was a customer of the broker or brokerage firm and the claim is filed within six years from the time of the occurrence or event that gave rise to the dispute. But know this: the six-year eligibility period is not always measured from the date you bought the investment.
Determining the occurrence or event giving rise to the dispute can be a crucial and very complicated exercise, and the result often can mean the difference between a viable claim and a claim that is time-barred. Whenever there is a close question as to the timeliness of a claim, the brokerage firm will argue that the claims are barred, so it’s essential for the investor to have a knowledgeable and creative lawyer to contest the issue.
Let Us Review You Case Before Time Runs Out
Don’t let your chance for a recovery slip away because you waited too long. Take action. Contact our offices today. It will cost you nothing to have us review your situation and tell you whether you have a case. If you hire us to pursue claims on your behalf, our compensation for services will only come from money we recover for you by an award or settlement. Use the email form to the right or call Hugh Berkson toll free at 866-932-1295.
Hugh Berkson is a Securities Attorney with McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman, Co. LPA. Hugh is rated AV® Preeminent™ by Martindale-Hubbell®.
He obtained a business degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin in 1989, and is a 1994 graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, where he was a member of the Order of the Barristers and received both the American Jurisprudence Award, (National Mock Trial) in 1993 and the Jonathan M. Ault Mock Trial Prize for 1993-1994.