How Well Do You Know Your Financial Professional? If you are like many people, the answer is “not very well.”
Recently I blogged about the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (“FINRA”) and the gaps in their “Broker Check” system. Since writing that piece, FINRA has begun correcting some of the problems. Except for stockbrokers, it is unfortunately difficult to check the compliance histories of most other financial professionals. The industry is full of bad apples and people who simply have no business managing other people’s money. So it was with no surprise that I read the story of Willie Aames.
Willie was the actor who starred in the TV show “Eight is Enough” and has several movies and sitcoms to his credit. Most recently, however, he appeared in the reality TV show, “Broke and Famous.” According to that show and other press reports, since leaving Hollywood Aames went broke. So broke that he filed for bankruptcy twice. So broke that he was sleeping in bushes.
So what is the broke and homeless Willie Aames doing know? He is a financial planner and stock broker. Yup, he may not be able to manage his own finances but now he wants to manage yours.
More recently the best selling author of Robert Kiyosaki, author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad“, Robert Kiyosaki, filed for corporate bankruptcy through one of his companies, Rich Global LLC.
Kiyoski apparently wrote a book to help people amass wealth and get out of debt. Along the way, however, his company wasn’t paying its bills and wound up owing $26 million with not even $2 million in assets. Although he personally didn’t declare bankruptcy, its never good having your financial planning empire attached to the word “bankruptcy.”
We often see stockbrokers with unpaid liens and judgments. How can a broker be expected to manage your money if she can’t manage her own. Admittedly, a judgment could come as the result from a lawsuit involving a car accident. In most cases, however, judgments and liens are a sign of poor spending and money management habits.
Researching a stockbroker is easy and free but finding information about accountants isn’t as easy. Ditto for insurance agents. You can usually find out from state licensing authorities if their licenses are active or if there was prior disciplinary history but that is all. Arrest records, bankruptcies, liens and judgments are more difficult to find.
There is a message here. Before you trust your money to anyone, perform some due diligence first. If you don’t know how, ask your accountant, lawyer, banker or just go on-line and look yourself. And never be afraid to ask questions.
Brian Mahany and the fraud recovery team at MahanyLaw help victims of financial fraud recover their money. If you are the victim of professional malpractice – by a lawyer, stockbroker, accountant or other professional, call us. We may be able to get your money back. Attorney Brian Mahany can be reached at or by email, .
MahanyLaw is a national boutique law firm representing victims of fraud and professional malpractice across the United States. Our asset recovery lawyers have represented clients across the United States and worldwide.