Lessons from the Option of Last Resort: Your Past Will Come Back to Haunt You

By: Robert Noens, Fall 2017 IAC Student Intern

Have you ever heard the saying that your past may come back to haunt you? Well, I am here to tell you that at trial or in a hearing, your past will come back to haunt you. I will also tell you that any history or experience you have with investing or finance will be exposed and, more than likely, not in a light or context that you ever thought it would be.

In the FINRA hearing I sat in on, the client’s accounts with previous brokers were scoured. His resume was used to point out that he was the owner and operator of a small business some thirty years ago. One may ask, why does that matter? The answer is, when part of your case is built on the fact that someone did not know or did not understand the telephone book of a document they received about their investments, you do not want them to have previously been in a position where they may have had to read and understand large and complicated documents that related to financial matters.

Ultimately, I do not think our client’s experience with running a small business outside of a rural town will have too large an effect on the case; or at least no larger than it did on his ability to comprehend one hundred plus pages of a financial mumbo-jumbo. The point is, you never know what will have an effect on your case or hearing. You do not know what strange fact from your past will come back to haunt you. So, two things to take away from this: (1) be very clear when it comes to your past experiences with investments or finances; and (2) remember that your past will be part of the discussion. As one of my professors says, “write emails as though they will be read aloud in a deposition someday.”