Despite Protests, You’re Still Bound by Arbitration
GOT A BEEF WITH YOUR BROKER? You’ll have to keep waiting for your day in court. In April, state securities regulators and members of Congress urged the SEC to end Wall Street’s practice of forcing customers to resolve disputes through nonjudicial binding arbitration rather than by a lawsuit. Riling them up was a ruling in March to let Charles Schwab extend the longtime ban on individual court actions to also forbid customers from joining class-action suits. Critics say Schwab’s move, likely to become industry practice if it stands, would unfairly shield brokerages from paying damages if they were liable for small-scale losses among a large number of customers. While some SEC members are sympathetic, Commissioner Elisse Walter said in May they won’t address the issue this year, Reuters reports. In any case, protect yourself by saving records and documenting conversations with your broker, says Los Angeles securities lawyer Ryan Bakhtiari. Verify all fees, and vet your broker carefully using brokercheck.finra.org.