Earl Jones and Bernie Madoff defrauded investors of millions and billions of dollars, respectively

Advisor.ca, by Alison MacAlpine
September 2009

They both ran schemes that went undetected for decades. Then they ended up in the media spotlight alongside reports of unprecedented market turbulence and a global recession.

Accordingly, high-net-worth (HNW) investors are feeling anxious. The question is, what are you doing to maintain their trust in you and your practice?

Dan Richards, president of Strategic Imperatives, thinks advisors need to deal with their clients' concerns proactively. With both existing and prospective clients, he recommends saying something like this: "In light of what's happened with Bernie Madoff and Earl Jones, some investors are a little bit concerned about whether their money is safe. Would you like to spend a couple of minutes going through the safeguards in place to protect you from fraudulent activity?"

Doug Lamb, a CFP with Dundee Private Investors Inc./Spera Financial in Toronto, has had these kinds of conversations with clients. He methodically outlines the layers of protection that are built into his practice. First, he is a certified financial planner and clients can easily check to make sure his certification is up to date. Second, his dealer is registered with the Ontario Securities Commission. Third, investment recommendations are accompanied by a formal proposal and relevant prospectuses. Sometimes, Lamb goes so far as to include independent reports on mutual funds from Globefund or Morningstar. Fourth, before investing, clients fill out application forms from companies they know and trust. Fifth, cheques are made out to the dealer in trust, never to Lamb personally. And finally, there's the paper trail.

Full text: Responding to HNW Fears of Scandals


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