What You Should Know About Your Brokerage Account Statement

You ge­­­­t the mail and see a monthly or quarterly account statement from your brokerage company. Maybe it sits on the counter for a few days. When you get to it, you open it, glance at it for about 30 seconds, and promptly throw it into the shredder (or worse, straight into the trash!) without really knowing what you just read. Sound familiar?

One of the biggest mistakes that we see investors make is failing to carefully read and review their investment account statements each time they come. Not only does an account statement offer insight into your portfolio activity and performance, it’s also a place where you can identify red flags indicating that you’re a victim of investment misconduct or fraud. Read on to understand more about your brokerage account statement and discover what to look out for.

Understanding your brokerage account statement

In order to identify red flags you need to first be able to understand your account statement. Most are broken down into these sections:

  • Account information – lists basic information such as the account owners, account type, account number(s), broker’s contact information, customer service information, and oftentimes an account investment objective
  • Summary – gives you insight into overall performance, highlighting gains or losses, and total value of your account
  • Portfolio detail – lists the individual assets within your portfolio
  • Income summary – details the income and dividends earned for the statement period and year to date
  • Daily activity – details account activity and transactions by day
  • Disclosures, announcements, definitions – lists legal or administrative information, important messages, or anything that could help you better understand your statement

The first time you receive an investment account statement, you should very carefully review it and make sure you understand each and every section and line item. If something is confusing, ask your broker to walk through it with you.

Using your account statement to recognize broker misconduct

The more comfortable you become with your account statement, the more likely you’ll be able to spot concerns or inconsistencies. Keep an eye out for these red flags as you review your statements:

  • The statement appears unprofessional or altered, or is just vastly different than what you normally receive; look out for grammatical errors, distorted logos, missing watermarks, or crooked text
  • Information, such as your account numbers or address, has changed without your knowledge or direction
  • New advisor information is listed or no advisor information is listed at all­­
  • The beginning balance on your current statement does not match the ending balance on your previous statement
  • There is activity or transactions that you did not authorize
  • Fees are being taken out that seem excessive or unexpected
  • There are missing assets
  • You notice that the asset mix doesn’t seem to match your risk tolerance

What to do if something seems “off”

First off, contact your broker or brokerage firm. Don’t be afraid to inquire about any inaccuracies or discrepancies. If the problem is not explained or resolved to your satisfaction, file a complaint with FINRA and give the attorneys at ChapmanAlbin a call. If you have a case of broker misconduct or fraud, w­­e may be able to help you recover on your losses.

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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