Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Customer wins - churners lose

Check out this morning's article in the Daily Herald about the 90-year-old Inverness (Ill.) woman who won $1.1 million in her legal action against two brokers and a Chicago stock brokerage firm involved in churning her account.

Her lawyer discovered that a Yahoo! account had been set up, to which stock transactions and account records could be emailed. The customer had not set up the email address! Through that account the brokerage firm could meet the requirement to send out confirmation notices. The problem? The customer never received them!

You can read the story here:

I was a stockbroker in 1981 in Denver when the penny stock market was hot. Do you know why it was called the Penny Stock market? It's where you could turn dollars into pennies!

It took me a while to figure out the market, and I got out. Customers would call and tell me that they wanted to invest. I wasn't too popular in the office, because I would caution customers that they weren't "investing"; they were speculating. Often I would discourage customers from buying stocks.

Managers would make statements like "The market is firming up", and I would ask if we were making Jello or something.

I remember asking one day if penny stocks could be sold short. It felt like the temperature in the room dropped about 30 degrees.

Good for Josephine DesParte, 90, of Inverness and her lawyer, Andrew Stoltmann, of Barrington Hills! According to the Daily Herald article, an arbitration panel awarded DesParte "her stock losses of $655,146, all capital gains taxes paid by the liquidation of long-held stocks of $380,000, and the return of $82,719 in fees that the brokers had charged."

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