Due Diligence on Financial Services Expert Witnesses That Focus on High Net Worth Clients
In financial litigation cases involving high net worth clients, the expertise of a financial services expert witness can play a critical role in the outcome of the case. Given the importance of their testimony, conducting due diligence on a potential expert witness is essential. In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of vetting an expert witness by examining their firm type, investment specialization, experience, and regulatory records.
The Type of Firm They Work At
- Independent Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs): RIAs are fiduciaries who provide personalized financial advice to clients. They are typically fee-based and are required to act in the best interest of their clients. An expert witness from an RIA may bring valuable insights on portfolio management, financial planning, and fiduciary standards.
- Large Wirehouse Firms: Wirehouse firms are large, full-service broker-dealers that offer a wide range of financial services. These firms may have a more product-centric approach and can provide insights on various investment products and strategies. An expert witness from a wirehouse firm may be knowledgeable about the inner workings of large financial institutions.
If They Specialize in Certain Types of Investments
- Trust and Estate: Expert witnesses specializing in trust and estate planning can offer in-depth knowledge on wealth transfer strategies, estate tax implications, and the nuances of managing trusts.
- Alternative Investments: Experts in alternative investments, such as hedge funds, private equity, and real estate, can provide insights into the unique risks, rewards, and regulatory aspects associated with these investment types.
- Options: An expert witness with a background in options trading can bring valuable insights on options strategies, risk management, and the regulatory environment for options trading.
- 401(k)s: Expert witnesses with experience in 401(k) plans can provide guidance on plan design, investment selection, and fiduciary responsibilities.
The Level of Experience
When evaluating a financial services expert witness, consider not only their experience in the investment advisory business but also their specific expertise in the relevant area. Ensure the expert witness has a proven track record and extensive experience in their subset level of expertise. This experience will make their testimony more credible and relevant to the case.
Review Their Broker Record
Before hiring a financial services expert witness, it is essential to review their regulatory records to ensure there are no outstanding issues or past regulatory actions that could impact their credibility. One way to do this is by searching for their records on BrokerCheck.org, a free online tool provided by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This resource allows you to review an expert’s registration status, employment history, and any disciplinary actions or complaints against them.
Conducting thorough due diligence on a financial services expert witness is crucial in ensuring the credibility and reliability of their testimony in cases involving high net worth clients. By examining their firm type, investment specialization, experience, and regulatory records, you can confidently select an expert witness that will provide valuable insights and help build a strong case.