How to hire the right financial services expert witness for your case
Hiring a Financial Services Expert Witness can be a daunting task.
Without a “go-to” individual or team, you can easily get frustrated and flustered finding and interviewing candidates locally and nationally, especially when your reputation and case outcome possibly relies on this individual.
If your case will benefit from the analysis and opinion of a Financial Services Expert Witness, then you will eventually have to commit to someone. You can work through and eliminate all the individuals that wont be a good fit, have the experience or may do more harm than good in your case during the deposition or actual trial.
We put together some information, questions and items you should look for that will help you work through this process speedily. If by the end of this you are still overwhelmed by finding out what kind of expert witness you need, we can get the right person to fill the opportunity.
What is their niche?
You might think that financial services is fairly generic and they all perform the same duties and functions. However, there are many advisors and wealth managers that serve a particular area such as:
- Client professions (Physicians, Corporate Executives, Entrepreneurs, Business Owners, etc.)
- Investment types
- Net worth of clients
- Account Types (Trust & Estate, 401k, Non-Retirement, Retirement, etc)
In order to determine the right individual to retain as an expert witness, we listed some of the questions you should consider asking in order to make the most of your time, case and investment.
Questions you should ask
- Do you focus on a particular industry, company or type of client?
- Do you focus on a certain type of investment types such as Alternative Investments (Hedge Funds, Private Equity), Fiduciary Services, Insurance, Retirement Plans?
- How long have you focused on a niche?
Check the U4
FINRA, which regulates the Financial Services Industry, compiles all information for individuals and firms which is a great resource to ensure you are doing business with the right people.
The Form U4 is the Uniform Application for Securities Industry Registration or Transfer. Representatives of broker-dealers, investment advisers, or issuers of securities must use this form to become registered in the appropriate jurisdictions and/or SROs.
The FINRA homepage is fairly simple to navigate, so let’s take a look at a profile by typing in the name John Smith
Now lets say you have these 2 John Smith as potential candidates. The choice here would be fairly obvious but is not always this easy to see.
When you open up the profile on the left, this it what you will be presented with.
Notice how there are no Disclosures, or anything that would not make this a good candidate to be a good Financial Services Expert Witness for your case.
Now take a look in the profile of the other John Smith
This individual has been barred from the industry with disclosures which can be seen by anyone with internet and computer access. This individual would not be a good candidate as their history and Disclosures would certainly be looked at by the legal team on the other side of the aisle.
This is a simple, easy way to filter out good, great and bad candidates for your expert witness testimony.
Outside businesses that may hurt or help your case?
These activities should be disclosed to registered financial firms even if it does not have any direct impact or relevance to being in Financial Services. It could be anything from volunteer work to being on a board of a company.
It is important to ask about this as there may be some items that would conflict with a case. While highly unlikely, you want to have all cards on the table before committing to hiring your Financial Services Expert Witness.
This information will also be disclosed for the most part within the U-4 under employment. If you do not see anything listed in the U-4, just ask these questions to confirm
Questions you should ask
- Are you involved with any other business activities or anything that would conflict with this case?
Have they done this before?
While not always a prerequisite, it helps for the financial services expert witness to have a process, standard forms and other items to expedite the administrative portion of the case studies. There are cases where the requesting legal team has their own format or specific material that they like to use when presenting a case.
For example, Forge Harbor Financial Services Expert Witness leverages a very simple but effective process from the time a lawyer makes an inquiry.
Depending on your time frame, it is worth asking if they have worked on other cases.
The more they have, the smoother the case analysis and opinion will come (hopefully).
Do they have the time?
The last thing you want to happen is the Expert Witness becoming unreliable, not focusing their time and effort on the case, or missing critical information to strengthen the argument.
If they are still a wealth advisor or running any other business, ensure that they can dedicate the time, research and have an open line of communication for timely requests.
Handing and managing a case is a stressful undertaking and you don’t need the case being kicked out from underneath you by an unmotivated, non-dedicated expert witness.
Will their firm allow it if still employed?
All outside business activities, entities and positions have to be disclosed to a compliance manager within the firm they are employed for. Depending on what they are testifying, reviewing and analyzing, this can put the advisor and firm in a gray area.
Before even beginning the conversation and spending precious time, ensure they have the approval of the firm, compliance and any other individuals or departments that need to approve it.
It can be overwhelming to pick the right financial services expert witness for your case but we have the experience to help place the right individual, experience and background to help strengthen the case.