What Is Selling Away and How Can You Protect Against It?

Generally, brokerages maintain a list of approved products that have undergone extensive due diligence. Selling away happens when a broker or investment professional recommends his client purchase securities that are not on his brokerage firm’s list. Put simply, when a broker sells away from the approved list of products, he is selling something which has not been properly researched or vetting has not been completed. This creates a greater risk of loss for his client. These transactions are typically not formally recorded. Usually, they are sold as side deals or private deals, and often, both the firm and the client are unaware of what’s truly going on.

Selling away violates industry regulations, meaning the broker could be held liable if the client suffers losses. FINRA prohibits registered brokers or investment professionals from selling away any security unless their brokerage firm has authorized them to make that sale. They must also provide written notice to their firm before making the sale.

The all-mighty commission

Often, selling away happens because a broker wants to earn the commission on a riskier investment product her firm doesn’t offer. On top of that, the broker would not have to share the commission with her firm, which makes it even more tempting. Sometimes, the sale involves a direct or indirect compensation arrangement for the investment professional.

Selling away can sometimes lead to even worse outcomes, from fraud to outright theft. All investments carry some element of risk, but selling away schemes can magnify that risk to an unacceptable level.

Protect yourself against selling away

Be sure your investment professional is selling you approved securities held by the brokerage firm he or she is associated with by using the following tips:

  • Always ask for confirmation, in writing, that the transaction is approved by the firm.
  • Review statements carefully. Unusual transactions in your account statement should be followed up on. Don’t be afraid to ask your broker if something seems off or doesn’t make sense.
  • If you make an investment, it should appear on your statement. If it doesn’t, it’s best to follow up.
  • Oftentimes, brokers will try and make it appear that the investment is approved by using the firm’s letterhead or email. Be sure that all communication you are receiving is truly from the brokerage firm.
  • Don’t let your broker get away with avoiding or not answering questions you have. If you don’t like the answers your broker is giving you, call the home office and explain the situation.
  • Do not sign a “comfort letter” indicating that you are comfortable with how your account is being handled.
  • If an investment seems too good to be true, it probably is.

What to do if you’ve lost money due to selling away

Selling away is typically both a violation of a firm’s procedures as well as industry regulations. An experienced investment fraud attorney may be able to assist you in recovering your investment by proving your broker was making deals without informing the firm and/or that the firm failed to properly supervise the investment professional or did not have the right procedures in place to catch and follow-up on red flags.

The attorneys at ChapmanAlbin understand the dangers of selling away and are here to help you. If you have a question about an investment or believe you’ve been involved in investment fraud, call us for a free consultation.

Take the next steps to find out if you have a claim:

Step 1.

Talk to an Experienced Attorney Today

Call and speak to one of our attorneys* for a no-cost consultation to discuss your situation, answer your questions, and help you determine the next steps. This call usually takes about 15 minutes, but we are happy to talk to you as long as you would like!

Step 2.

Quick Review of Your Paperwork

If we think you might have a case, we will need to review a few basic documents. If we determine you have a case, then you will have the option to hire us as your attorneys to pursue it.

Step 3.

Signed Attorney/Client Agreement

If you decide to hire us to pursue your case, we will have you sign an attorney-client agreement so we can begin the process of trying to recover your losses.*

*In the vast majority of cases, our agreement is contingent – meaning you won’t owe us any money unless we recover money for you.

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