Securities Helpline for Seniors

By Jason Robinson, Summer 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

Seniors are one of the fastest growing segments of the American population. Often times these individuals no longer have a steady income and are at a higher risk for expensive health complications. The Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA) recognized the vulnerabilities of these individuals and has made a concerted effort to introduce new initiatives to protect them.

One of these initiatives is the Securities Helpline for Seniors (844-57-HELPS or 844-575-3577): a toll-free helpline available Monday through Friday from 9:00 A.M.- 5:00 P.M. where seniors can get neutral and knowledgeable assistance. The helpline focuses on assisting seniors with: Continue reading

My Clinic Story: Jason Robinson

By Jason Robinson, Spring 2015 Student Intern

DSC_0157I can remember the Corporate Finance class where we discussed the structure of annuities. I learned how to discount future payments to get the present value of the annuity. After working in the Clinic and encountering real annuities, I now realize that they are a lot more complicated than I had imagined from my finance course. In the classroom we sometimes get a simplified version of what happens in the real world. The Clinic has allowed me to work with real clients and see how some of the financial products that I had learned about are actually put together.

One part of the Clinic that I have really enjoyed is the chance it gave me to interact with clients and practice being a professional. Although we work under the supervision of attorneys, the attorneys make every effort to allow the student-interns to make the tough decisions. When I first started in the Clinic this was not easy. My instinct would be to turn to the attorneys for advice. After being asked, “What do you think?” enough times, I realized that this was a chance for me to make some of the hard choices about the direction of a potential claim.

Overall, I have reached the conclusion that what you get out of the Clinic has everything to do with what you put into it. The more that I challenged myself and took on new, difficult tasks, the more I ended up being rewarded by the experience. The Investor Advocacy Clinic in particular deals with complex financial products. There is a high learning curve to understanding something like a variable annuity. The more effort that you put into learning how these products function leads to a greater ability to speak the language of business and pick up on the subtle ways that investors are defrauded or put into unsuitable investments.

SEC and FINRA Report on National Senior Investor Initiative

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

As we’ve discussed, senior investors are highly susceptible to investment fraud due to their accumulated wealth and the fact that some may suffer from diminished capacity. This issue is of growing concern to securities regulators given that approximately 10,000 Americans will turn 65 every day for the next 15 years. Continue reading

My Clinic Story: Francis Laryea

By Francis Laryea, Spring 2015 Student Intern

DSC_0161My experience in the Investor Advocacy Clinic was unlike any educational experience I have had before. It was indeed an experiential learning experience. I did not play a passive role in my learning, but rather an active role. I learned about securities arbitration by doing rather by sitting in a classroom and reading opinions. On my very first day in the clinic, I felt as though I was tossed into the deep end. There was so much I did not know. However, with the aid of my clinic professors, I was able to figure out how to float and eventually navigate the waters. Continue reading

SEC Brings Charges Against Two Dozen Unregistered Broker-Dealers

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

The SEC recently charged two dozen with selling unregistered securities. According to the SEC:

“An SEC investigation found that Global Fixed Income LLC, which was primarily in the business of purchasing investment grade corporate bonds, entered into agreements with third parties that acted as unregistered broker-dealers on its behalf and bought billions of dollars’ worth of newly issued bonds causing Global Fixed Income’s allocation in the bond offerings to increase.  Because the offerings were often oversubscribed, Global Fixed Income was generally able to sell or ‘flip’ the bonds within a few days for a small profit compared to the dollar value of the trade, and it split profits with the third-party participants.”

None of the third parties were registered as broker-dealers, and that is a violation of the law. SEC’s broker-dealer registration requirements ensure the protection of investors because the SEC inspects broker-dealers’ books and records.

SEC Investor Alert: SEC Seal Scams

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

Have you seen the SEC’s seal on an investment product?  If so, beware.  The SEC has learned that investment fraudsters are using the SEC seal as a way to convince investors that their frauds are legitimate, and you should avoid them at all costs.

According to an Updated Investor Alert, “The SEC does not ‘approve’ or ‘endorse’ any particular securities, issuers, products, loans, services, professional credentials, firms or individuals, and does not allow private entities to use its government seal.” Continue reading

Saving For Retirement: A Few More Tips…

By Patricia Uceda, Spring 2015 Graduate Research Assistant

We hope that you’ve enjoyed this past month of retirement savings tips, and that we’ve inspired you to get started on your own retirement plan. Nothing is more important than ensuring your financial security in your later years. For our last tip in this series, we’d like you to do your own homework and learn more: check out the Department of Labor’s “Savings Fitness:  A Guide to Your Money and Your Financial Future.”