When things get rough in the markets, many Americans say they can't bear to look at what the brokerage firm sends them in the mail. Not a good strategy, says Dobin.
"Well, guess what? It's still your money. If you, the customer, take no interest in your affairs, why should the judges at an arbitration hearing?"
Dobin cites a recent case where a couple lost two million dollars in an account that was handled by an independent money manager. The investment firm "beat the arbitration hearing," says Dobin, because "the couple was afraid to open their account statements."
Show Some Vigilance
Suppose a client looks at her statement, says Dobin. She sees that she is down $50,000, but the broker says not to worry, this is just a temporary correction. The next month, the client notices she's down another $25,000 and things are starting to look much less temporary.
"It's the client's obligation to say, 'I want better answers. I want a plan so I can protect myself from further downside when the market does come back,'" says Dobin.
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Arbitrate or Litigate
As Dobin sees it, "arbitration and litigation involve the same skills; it's just a different venue."
He believes arbitrating investor disputes is far more effective in most cases than heading to court. "With arbitration, in a fairly standard case, it's over in 12 to 18 months. You know what the result is."
What's more, the costs for arbitration are lower and you avoid the "motion process" where attorneys introduce motion after motion that delays trials and slows down a resolution to the problem.
Marc Dobin is a securities litigation and arbitration lawyer with 25 years' experience. The guiding principle at his firm is "do right by the client."