By Johanna Fowler
As an attorney practicing securities litigation, a wife and a mother of two children, three dogs and one guinea pig, I am a big believer in the financial empowerment of women. I have experienced the benefits of this concept, and its lack thereof, both in my personal life and in the practice of law.
As women, too often we defer to the men-folk in our lives with hope and expectation that they will protect and secure us financially. Unfortunately, in real life it often does not happen that way. The vicissitudes of widowhood, divorce, corporate lay-offs, single parenthood, parents living into their late 90s and even 100s, and other factors often combine to leave women in financial peril in their mid-to late life-years.
What we see in practice is that women investors sometimes do not realize they have been taken advantage of financially. Even then, they do not realize they may have a legal case for damages. Also what we see is an increasing positive trend of women holding the reins in being involved in, and responsible for, financial decision-making. Knowing the rights one has as a customer of a financial services provider is an important aspect of financial wellbeing.
As such, following is a brief Top Ten “Investor Bill of Rights” as food for thought. No matter what your age or financial circumstances, these are your rights as a customer in the financial services industry:
1. The right to accurate and responsive communication from your financial advisor.
2. The right to be provided with responsible investment recommendations that are suitable for your age, time horizon, risk tolerance and other key factors.
3. The right to timely and accurate account and transactional information reflecting all investment positions held.
4. The right to be treated respectfully and ethically by your financial advisor.
5. The right to trading in transactions that you authorize and that are not excessive or designed to generate bigger commissions to the financial advisor.
6. The right to investments suitable for you because you understand the risks.
7. The right to investments suitable for you because you have the overall financial ability to weather the risk level of the chosen investments.
8. The right to investments that jibe with your financial objectives.
9. The right to investments that do not cause you unreasonable risk of financial harm.
10. The right to know and exercise your investor rights to foster financial success.
Knowing these rights is significant to your fi nancial education. Taking the mystery out of the world of finances is quite doable. Just be patient and committed to growing your knowledge of this very important sector of a woman’s life.
Johanna Fowler is a native of Asheville, having been born at Mission Hospital as were her parents and her son. She practices law in the fi eld of securities and investor rights litigation with the firm Falls & Veach. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.