Oregon FINRA Arbitration Attorneys
Oregon’s natural frontier of oceans, mountains, and cherry trees makes it a destination for seniors and baby boomers seeking retirement communities in the outdoors. Retiree investors might prefer the peaks and valleys of the rugged Northwest mountain ranges, however, the typical conservative outlook for retirement planning typically seeks investments and portfolios that avoid such volatility. Conservative Oregon investors and retirees typically understand that, to avoid such volatility, a balanced portfolio must be properly diversified, with a heavy weighting to proven blue chip equities or conservative fixed income investments. Unfortunately, some Oregon retirees have found themselves misled to realize that their retirement portfolios have suffered from extremes in volatility, and overall decimation from taking the advice of financial advisers who, instead, recommended an over-concentration in speculative alternative investments. Many senior investors only learn this lesson too late. For those interested in taking legal steps to recover investment losses, investors should know that first of all, many disputes with financial firms are ineligible for the courts, and that their cases must instead be heard in arbitration before the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This forum has both advantages and drawbacks. Malecki Law is an experienced FINRA arbitration law firm that is skilled in this litigation forum — whether in Oregon or nationally — and has recovered tens of millions of dollars for numerous retirees and senior investors.
The alternative investment market has grown significantly over the last thirty years or more, offering an array of private placement products marketed to seniors and retail investors in many forms. These alternative products are frequently non-traded, and often sold as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) or Business Development Companies (BDC). In 2015, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) published an Investor Bulletin to warn investors about alternative products like non-traded REITs, noting that they have risks different than investments that are publicly traded, and investors should consider these risks before investing, including:
- Lack of liquidity: “Non-traded REITs are illiquid investments, which mean that they cannot be sold readily in the market. Instead, investors generally must wait until the non-traded REIT lists its shares on an exchange or liquidates its assets to achieve liquidity. These liquidity events, however, might not occur until more than 10 years after your investment.”
Malecki Law’s FINRA arbitration lawyers know full well that seniors and retirees do not typically have a time horizon of ten years for their investments to reach a profit. Younger investors may be able to afford the wait, but not retirees who are not working, and therefore, need liquidity and to be able to access their money for daily living and the increased medical expenses typical with aging. Moreover, waiting ten years on such a speculative venture is beyond the risk appetite for most investors, not just retirees.
The SEC also notes that these alternative products are plagued with excessive fees structures that make them speculative for just about any investor:
- High fees: “Non-traded REITs typically charge high upfront fees to compensate a firm or individual selling the investment and to lower their offering and organizational costs. These fees can represent up to 15 percent of the offering price, which lowers the value and return of your investment and leaves less money for the REIT to invest. In addition to the high upfront fees, non-traded REITs may have significant transaction costs, such as property acquisition fees and asset management fees.”
Allocating 15% to commissions and product management fees alone means that an investment would need to return a gain of 15% to simply break even. With these fees built right into the product, investors may overlook these costs, in fact making their actual valuations much less. Valuations are also difficult to gauge in private non-traded securities, especially compared to a company traded on a liquid, public market, where everything public about the company is reflected right there in the share price. Conversely, the valuations for non-traded securities are far more suspect and opaque.
The FINRA arbitration attorneys of Malecki Law will hold financial advisers and their firms to account, as they have a duty to act in the best interest of their clients with retirement accounts, including disclosing all conflicts of interest relating to fees and products risks before recommending such products. The securities laws are designed to ensure investors have an opportunity to provide informed consent around these risks and disclosures — legally, it is a sufficient disclosure for a financial adviser to simply ask an investor to sign a form that agrees to these fees and risks buried in the fine print of a subscription agreement. In reality, the subscription forms might make the required disclosures in written form, but it is the financial adviser who is simultaneously providing verbal assurances and only talking about the potential yield or gains of an investment. As required uniformly under the various federal and state securities laws, investment advice must always be presented in a fair and balanced manner, such that it is not misleading.
In attempting to recover investment losses from these alternative products, misled Oregon investors and retirees should consider Malecki Law, whose FINRA arbitration attorneys are fully familiar with the relevant securities laws. For example, when illiquid securities are at issue in a case, and if traditional methods of recovery are not available, our firm takes advantage of other legal remedies that may apply, such as seeking rescission, which is the legal term for requiring a seller of a security to take back the (now worthless or mostly worthless) security and fully refund the original amount to the investor. Rescission effectively operates as a cancellation of the original transaction, as if it never took place. Oregon investors and seniors who have been misled by financial advisers into alternative investments need to be represented by professionals who understand the complexities of the securities laws. You need to contact a FINRA arbitration law firm like Malecki Law. We handle a wide variety of securities matters to recover lost investment funds. To schedule a free initial consultation with Malecki Law, please call (212) 943-1233, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.