Brokerage firms put in customer agreements that any dispute between the brokerage firm or broker must be resolved by arbitration, rather than in court. In effect, a customer having a problem with a broker is precluded from bringing a claim to court.
The claim can involve investments in a variety of forms including common stocks, bonds, mutual funds, REITs and annuities.
The legal basis for the claims include negligence, fraud, breech of contract, omission of facts (concealing material information concerning the investment), unauthorized trading and churning.
Not surprisingly, the number of claims filed can change based on market conditions. This blog is being written in 2017, when there has been a drop in FINRA claims filed, probably due to the long term bull market.
I have looked at a chart of Dow to GDP ratio. What the chart shows is that we are now at approximately 100%. In July of 1982 the same ratio was 25%. In March 2009, the ratio was 53%. Clearly, this bull market has at least been driven by market fascination, rather than fundamentals. .
Interestingly, the S & P 500 PE ratio is now approximately 25, from about 13 in September 2011. Prices are going up, in spite of a lag in earnings growth.
Some analysts have suggested that stocks are overvalued and expect a decline. Investors should properly balance their portfolio to consider how much risk there is in the stock and bond market.
Unfortunately, there is also a risk with owning bonds, particularly in an environment in which interest rates are rising. If the economy softens further, there is a risk of significant losses from the junk bond market. If rate rates rise, there is a risk of a large losses in value of bonds, particularly bonds have a longer term maturity (price decline of bonds, as rates increase).
If you believe you may have a claim against a broker, please feel free to contact me at
Robert M. Singer, Atty at Law
2572 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518