WSHB’s attorneys have extensive experience handling a wide range of claims that arise in the financial services and securities industries. Our highly specialized team is prepared to handle regulatory inquiries, customer claims in arbitration and litigation, intra-industry disputes, and enforcement actions with FINRA, the SEC and state insurance departments.
Knowing and Protecting Our Clients
At WSHB, we understand the challenges and risks confronting our clients, which have been intensified by unprecedented regulatory oversight and erratic economic conditions. Our team of trusted and experienced lawyers take the time to get to know our customers and their businesses so that we understand the laws and regulations governing their businesses and the individuals behind the company. By knowing who our clients are and what is important to them, our attorneys can establish the right strategies to ensure that each case is handled in a way that is consistent with the client's desires and priorities.
We recognize the perils that come with the scrutiny of regulatory inquiries, enforcement proceedings, customer complaints, and industry disputes and are committed to remaining mindful of this when entrusted with resolving these matters. Our lawyers are dedicated to formulating early and innovative strategies to achieve excellent results for our clients. If early resolution is not possible or is impractical or undesirable, we will try cases with vigor.
WSHB represents all nature of business and firms - small, mid-size and large national broker-dealers; investment advisors; and individual registered representatives – and we make each a priority. Our size and the resources available to us, including innovation and technology that centralize information and track and organize files, result in fees that are typically lower than other law firms that specialize in the securities and financial services industries.
Understanding that our clients all have different needs, priorities, and resources, WSHB is willing to devise and explore alternative fee structures. Such arrangements are based on sharing the risk and building a collaborative relationship between our firm and our clients. They are built on providing financial predictability and aligning financial rewards of successful representation.
Nationwide Knowledge and Experience
Our success is due to the diverse experience of our outstanding team. WSHB is a national firm, with offices in 24 cities across the United States. No matter where you are located, we have access to briefs, transcripts and research materials from across the country so that we can utilize the collective experience, knowledge, and diversity of our attorneys to develop the strongest defense. We regularly collaborate with our attorneys who practice ERISA, insurance and employment law, approaching problems with a wide-ranging perspective to find innovative solutions for efficient and successful results.
Customer Claims in Arbitration & Litigation
Customer claims in arbitration and litigation at FINRA Dispute Resolution and state and federal courts can run the gamut. WSHB attorneys have handled them all. Our knowledge, experience, and diversity provide us with a broad perspective, enabling us to assess and evaluate claims quickly to develop collaborative and creative defenses that minimize risk and maximize results for our clients. We have successfully represented claims of churning, unauthorized trading, overconcentration, unsuitable recommendations, Ponzi schemes, failed tax shelters and claims arising out of the sale of innovative or complex products, among others. We have worked with and built productive relationships with the main players in the industry, including regulators, arbitrators, the plaintiffs’ bar and other defense teams.
Securities Enforcement Proceedings
Our team of attorneys has participated in enforcement proceedings from nearly every aspect. Our success in representing clients in FINRA investigations and enforcement proceedings has created a strong foundation for understanding in the process. The knowledge that stems from this involvement enables our attorneys to understand when early, alternative resolutions are possible and when we need to draw up a battle plan. While we endeavor to resolve inquiries before formal proceedings, we are willing and prepared to respond to the spectrum of regulatory and governmental inquiries when the need arises.
- FINRA Arbitration (Newark, NJ) - A WSHB lawyer represented a brokerage firm in a FINRA arbitration where the customer alleged that the firm placed grossly unsuitable investments in Claimants' accounts, made misrepresentations regarding investments, excessively charged commissions, failed to properly supervise employees and violated fiduciary duties, security industry rules and regulations, as well as federal and state laws. WSHB argued that the broker responsible for the accounts did not work at Respondent’s brokerage firm at the time the accounts were opened, did not disclose the accounts as outside business activity when the broker came to the firm, and thus the firm did not have a duty to supervise the account, did not provide advice with respect to the accounts and did not violate any securities laws and thus was an improper party to the action. Claimant demanded in excess of $300K against all three respondents combined. WSHB was able to convince Claimants to resolve matter for a nominal amount.
- Three Inter-related FINRA Cases – Claimants demanded more than $750,000 in compensatory damages, disgorgement of commissions, interest, costs expenses, attorneys’ fees and punitive damages, for allegations against a "bad broker" (who is now incarcerated for investor fraud). They claimed that the broker engaged in unsuitable mutual fund switching, recommended unsuitable variable annuities, engaged in unauthorized trading and churning, and inappropriately liquidated and replaced existing variable annuity investments. The causes of action against the broker and his financial group employer were breach of fiduciary duty, professional negligence, unsuitable transactions, excessive trading or churning, violations of Arizona’s Securities Fraud Statute, failure to supervise and respondeat superior. Our lawyer represented the broker’s employer financial group.
- FINRA Arbitration (Milwaukee, WI) – Obtained a defense award for a securities broker-client after claimants brought a FINRA arbitration seeking compensatory damages of over $780,000 against our client, three other brokers, and their broker-dealer. The allegations were breach of fiduciary duties and failed to disclose material face concerning the opening and closing of several brokerage accounts and the purchase and sale of variable annuities. After a four-day hearing, the panel denied the claimants’ claims with prejudice in their entirety and recommended all references to the claims be expunged from the broker’s records. It should be noted that this award was featured in ArbCheck Reporter, a widely read publication in the securities industry.
- FINRA Arbitration (San Francisco, CA) – A WSHB lawyer represented a broker and national broker-dealer in a FINRA arbitration where the customer alleged that the broker’s recommendation to invest in TICs and private placements was unsuitable and the broker-dealer failed to adequately supervise the broker in violation of FIRNA rules.
- Federal Securities Litigation (Helena, MT) – A WSHB lawyer represented two brokers, a broker-dealer and an annuity distributor company in a federal district court action. The claimants alleged unsuitability of a recommendation to invest in a variable annuity, and sought a judgment voiding an arbitration clause in the brokerage firm’s account opening documents.
News & Resources
- "An Introduction to Variable Annuities," Presentation for Lancer Claims Services and Calsurance, 2023
"Is There a Lawyer in the House? Issues Presented by Non-Lawyer Representatives in FINRA Securities Arbitrations," CLM Litigation Management Magazine, March 6, 2017.
"Call Me, Maybe: Update Regarding Liability for Debt Collection Phone Calls Under FDCPA," Professional Liability Advocate, February 17, 2015.
"Loophole Leaves Insurers Powerless Against Fraud," New York Law Journal, December 1, 2014.
"A Check in the Win Column for Broker-Dealers," Professional Liability Advocate, September 16, 2014.
- Litigation Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic: Emerging Trends in Directors and Officers and Securities LitigationCoronavirus Resources, 5.27.20