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Can I Sue My Financial Advisor?

Often, investors assume that because investments inherently carry a degree of risk, that you are precluded from seeking to recover investment losses. This is incorrect. While normal market fluctuations should be expected and are not actionable, the manner in which your portfolio is positioned is actionable.  

The securities laws, both at the state and federal level, offer protections to investors. Moreover, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has promulgated rules that govern registered financial advisors. The securities laws and FINRA rules provide the contours of the investment relationship with a customer like you. If the financial advisor deviates from the rules, they and their employing brokerage firm may be liable for any investment losses experienced by the customer. 

How does it all work . . . you ask? Financial advisors are obligated to only recommend suitable investments. 

Making suitable investment recommendations is the cornerstone of proper investment advice. All brokerage firms and financial advisors have a duty to recommend suitable investments that are consistent with the needs and objectives of the investor. Brokerage firms and financial advisors must learn all material facts about an investor before making any recommendations and must match all investments with a customer’s stated investment profile. Failure to recommend suitable investments may result in a claim to recover attenuating investment losses.

FINRA has defined the standards in which investment recommendations made by brokerage firms and registered financial advisors are evaluated. The FINRA suitability rule focuses on three fundamental concepts: (1) reasonable basis suitability, (2) quantitative suitability and (3) customer-specific suitability.

Reasonable basis suitability requires that a recommended investment or investment strategy be suitable or appropriate for at least some investors. Reasonable basis suitability requires an advisor to conduct adequate due diligence so that they can determine the risks and rewards of the investment or investment strategy.

Quantitative suitability requires a brokerage firm or financial advisor with actual or de facto control over a customer’s account to have a reasonable basis for believing that a series of recommended transactions – even if suitable when viewed in isolation – is not excessive and unsuitable for the customer when taken together in light of the customer’s investment profile. No single test defines excessive activity, but factors such as the turnover rate, the cost-equity ratio and the use of in-and-out trading in a customer’s account may provide a basis for a finding that a member or associated person has violated the quantitative suitability obligation.

Customer-specific suitability requires that a member or associated person have a reasonable basis to believe that the recommendation is suitable for a particular customer based on that customer’s investment profile. Among the criteria that a financial advisor must evaluate to satisfy their customer-specific suitability obligations include the investor’s:

  • Age
  • Other investments
  • Financial situation and needs
  • Tax status
  • Investment objectives
  • Time horizon
  • Liquidity needs
  • Risk tolerance
  • Any other information disclosed by the customer

Failure by a financial advisor to adhere to these requirements is evidence of negligence or, worse, investment fraud. If you as the investor can establish, at a minimum, negligent misconduct, you may be entitled to recovery your investment losses. 

The Wolper Law Firm represents investors nationwide in securities litigation and arbitration on a contingency fee basis. Matt Wolper, the Managing Principal of the Wolper Law Firm, is a trial lawyer who has handled hundreds of securities cases during his career involving a wide range of products, strategies and securities. Prior to representing investors, he was a partner with a national law firm, where he represented some of the largest banks and brokerage firms in the world in securities matters. We can be reached at 800.931.8452 or by email at mwolper@wolperlawfirm.com.

Now is the time to talk to an investment loss recovery lawyer. We can help recover your investment loss. Free consultations, always.

Main Office - Fort Lauderdale

1250 S. Pine Island Road
Suite 325
Plantation, FL 33324
Phone: (866) 330-5167
(954)-406-1231

We represent clients nationwide, including, but not limited to: Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Tampa, Stuart, St. Petersburg, Vero Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Washington DC, Charlotte, Boston, Baltimore, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Fargo, Atlanta, Little Rock, Newark and St. Louis

Additional Office Locations (by appointment only)

Atlanta

3355 Lenox Road
Suite 7
Atlanta, GA 30326

Indianapolis

13295 N. Illinois St.
Suite 314
Indianapolis, IN 46032

New York City

275 Madison Avenue
Suite 705
New York, NY 10016

Dallas

3102 Maple Ave.
Suite 400
Dallas, TX 75201

Irvine

2600 Michelson Drive
Suite 1700
Irvine, CA 92612

Portland

5933 NE Win Sivers Drive
Suite 205
Portland, OR 97220

Denver

7900 E. Union Ave.
Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80237

Naperville

1700 Park Street
Suite 103
Naperville, IL 60563

Seattle

1001 Fourth Ave.
#3200
Seattle, WA 98154

We represent clients nationwide, including, but not limited to: Miami, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Sarasota, Tampa, Stuart, St. Petersburg, Vero Beach, Orlando, Jacksonville, Austin, Houston, Dallas, Washington DC, Charlotte, Boston, Baltimore, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Denver, Salt Lake City, Fargo, Atlanta, Little Rock, Newark and St. Louis